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The University of Connecticut 
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In 38 vols. 16ino, 




The volumes are of the exact size and style of Little, 
BRO^\'N & Co.'s edition of the " British Poets," and sold 
at the same price, — seventy-five cents per volume. 


" No greater service, we think, can be done in the cause 
of good letters, than the extensive dissemination of these 
standard compositions. They embrace the best models of 
style in the English language ; and the mode in which their 
authors treat their subjects might be imitated to advantage 
by the facile WTiters of the present day. The higli reputa- 
tion of the house of Little, Brown & Co., and the admirable 
excellence of their edition of the British Poets, — which 
their proposed edition of the • Essayists ' will imitate, — 
afford more than a sufficient guaranty that it will deserve 
the patronage of the public. These * British Essayists ' are 


truly works that no library, even of the most meagre preten- 
sions, can afford to be without." — Boston Daily Advertiser. 

*• The smooth and polished essays of the eighteenth cen- 
tury find more admirers, and are probably more read, than 
any others of the writings that go to make up the sum of 
English literature. Had they not great merits, tliis could 
not be the case. Their claims, indeed, are very great to the 
respect and attention of the reading world. An eminent 
critic and essayist of our age has said, ' If ever the best 
Tatlers and Spectators were equalled in their own kind, we 
should be inclined to guess that it must have been by tlie 
lost comedies of Menander.' This is meant to apply to the 
contributions of Addison ; but the other essayists were, in 
some instances, by no means the inferiors of Addison, 
though their talents differed from his, and were perhaps less 
adapted to essay- writing. But such men as Steele, John- 
son, and Hawkesworth, were among the first writers of their 
time." — Boston Chronicle. 

«« ♦ The Tatler,' ' The Rambler,' * The Spectator,' • The 
Guardian,' 'The Adventurer,' written by such men as 
Steele, Johnson, Addison, Hawkesworth, are standard com- 
positions, — models of good old English. They not only 
contain good writing, but are life-like pictures of the times 
in which they were -written. An edition of these Essays, 
issued in the accurate and neat manner in which Little, 
Brown & Co. get out their works, will be richly worthy of a 
place in every library. This edition will be, in every re- 
spect, a complete one, — supplied Avith an index, and with 
valuable historical and biographical prefaces, — and one 
worthy of the sterling merits and wide renown of these 
productions. So varied and often amusing arc they, so cer- 
tain to cultivate a pure style, that ^\e hardly know how a 
more judicious selection could be made, of >vorks to make a 
family library, than this edition of these Essays. It will tui- 
doubtedly receive a large public patronage." — Boston Post. 

fljt ^ritis^ '^^dB, 






This Series of British Poets has secm-ed the unqualified 
commendation of the press and the pubHc in all i)arts of 
the country, and has been everv^vhere received with a 
favor far exceeding what was anticipated ; so that the suc- 
cess of the undertaking is established beyond all question. 
This edition is universally acknowledged to be the best 
ever issued, both in point of echtorship and mechanical 


" We cannot speak too highly in praise of this edition — 
the only one that deserves the name of ' complete' — of tlie 
British Poets." — Boston Daily Adcertiser. 

" We really know nothing more worthy of the cordial 
support of the American pubhc than the Boston edition oi' 
the English Poets." — New York Times. 


** A fairer printed, a more tasteful or more valuable, set of 
books cannot be placed in any library." — New York Courier 
and Enquirer, 

•' The best, the most permanently valuable, the most con- 
venient, and the cheapest edition of the standard poetical 
literature of Great Britain ever published." — Home Journal, 

** We regard it as the most beautiful and convenient 
library-edition of the British Poets yet published." — Phila- 
delphia Evening Bulletin. 

" We do not know any other edition of the English Poets 
which combines so much excellence." — Bibliotheca Sacra. 

The following volumes 

Akenside 1 vol. 

Beattie 1 vol. 

Butler 2 vols. 

Campbell 1 vol. 

Churchill 3 vols. 

Coleridge 3 vols. 

Collins 1 vol. 

CowPER 3 vols. 

Dryden 5 vols. 

Falconer 1 vol. 

Gay 2 vols. 

Goldsmith 1 vol. 

Gray 1 vol. 

Herbert 1 vol. 

Hood 2 vols. 

are already issued : — 

Keats 1 vol. 

Milton 3 vols. 


Pope 3 vols. 

Prior 2 vols. 

Shelley 3 vols. 

Spenser 5 vols. 

Surrey 1 vol. 

Swift 3 vols. 

Thomson 2 vols. 

Watts 1 vol. 

White 1 vol. 

Wordsworth 7 vols. 

Wyatt 1 vol. 

YouNO 2 vols. 

*#* We have in Press, and shall issue soon, the Works 
of Byron, Moore, Vaughan, Shakspeare, Herrick, Mar- 
vell, Skelton, Donne, Chatterton, Crabbe, Southey, 
and Chaucer. The remainder of the series will be pub- 
lished as fast as the volumes can be prepared. 

'«5 ^- 












I^ I T T L !•: , H R O W N AND C M 1> A H f . 


R I V E R s 1 u E , Cambridge: 




Nullius acMictus jurare in verba magistri, 
Quo me cunque rapit tempestaf, deferor ho«pes. 

HOR. EPIST. i. 1. 14. 

No. l^GU. 




Historical and Biographical Preface. 

1. DiflBculty of the First Address — Practice of the 

Epic Poets — Convenience of Periodical Per- 
formances JOHNSON. 

2. The Necessity and Danger of looking into Futurity 

— Writers naturally Sanguine — Their Hopes 

liable to Disappointment 

3. An Allegory on Criticism 

4. The Modern Form of Romances preferable to the 

Ancient — The Necessity of Characters morally 

5. A Meditation on the Spring 

6. Happiness not local 

7. Retirement natural to a great Mind — Its religious 


8. The Thoughts to be brought under Regulation; as 

they respect the Past, Present, and Future 

9. The Fondness of every Man for his Profession — 

The gradual Improvement of Manufactures. ... 



10. Four Billets, with their Answers — Eemarks on Mas- 

querades MISS MULSO. 

11. The Folly of Anger— The Misery of a Peevish old 


12. The History- of a Young Woman that came to Lon- 

don for a Service 

13. The Duty of Secrecy— The Invalidity of all Ex- 

cuses for betraying Secrets ■ 

14. The Difference between an Author's Writings and 

his Conversation - 

15. The Folly of Cards — A Letter from a Lady that 

has lost her Money ■ 

16. The Dangers and Misery of Litei-ary Eminence. . . 

17. The frequent Contemplation of Death necessary 

to moderate the Passions - 

18. The Unhappiness of Marriage caused by irregular 

IMotives of Choice ■ 

19. The Danger of ranging from one Study to another 

— The Importance of the early Choice of a Pro- 

20. The Folly and Inconvenience of AtVectation ■ 

21. The Anxieties of Literature not less than those of 

puljlic Stations — The Inequality of Authors' 
Writings ■ 

22. An Allegory on Wit and Learning • 

23. The Contrariety of Criticism — The Vanity of Ob- 

jection — An Author obliged to depend upon his 
own Judgment 

24. The Necessity of attending to the Duties of Com- 

mon Life — The Natural Character not to be for- 



25. Rashness preferable to Cowardice — Enterprise not 

to be repressed johnsox. 

26. Tlie Mischief of Extravagance, and Misery of De- 


27. An Aiitiior's Treatment from six Patrons 

28. The Various Arts of Self-Delusion 

29. The Folly of anticipating Misfortunes 

30. The Observance of Sunday recommended; an Al- 

legory MISS TALI50T. 

31. The Defence of a known Mistake highly culpable joiinson. 

32. The Vanity of Stoicism — The Necessity of Pa- 


33. An allegorical Historv of Rest and Labour 

34. The Uneasiness and Disgust of Female Cowardice 

35. A Marriage of Prudence without Affection 

36. The Reason why Pastorals delight 

37. The true Principles of Pastoral Poetry 

38. The Advantage of Mediocrity — An Eastern Fable 

39. The Unhappiness of Women, whether single or 


40. The Ditlkulty of giving Advice without oflending 

41. The Advantages of Memory 

42. The Misery of a Modish Lady in Solitude 

43. The Inconveniences of Prccijtitation and Confi- 


44. Religion and Superstition, a Vision mhs. cai:iki{. 

iu. The Causes of Disagreement in Marriage joiinson. 



46. The Mischiefs of Rural Faction johnson. 

47. The proper Means of regulating Soitow 

48. The Miseries of an Infirm Constitution 

49. A Disquisition upon the Value of Fame 

50. A virtuous Old Age always reverenced 

51. The Employments of a Housewife in the Country 

62. The Contemplation of the Calamities of others, a 
Remedy for Grief 

53. The Folly and Misery of a Spendthrift 

54. A Death-bed the true School of Wisdom — The Ef- 

fects of Death upon the Survivors 

55. The gay Widow's Impatience of the Growth of her 

Daughter — The History of Miss May-pole 

56. The Necessity of Complaisance — The Rambler's 

Grief for offending his Correspondents 

57. Sententious Rules of Frugality 

58. The Desire of Wealth moderated by Philosophy, . 

59. An Account of Suspirius, the human Screech-owl 

60. The Dignity and Usefulness of Biography 





When Dr. Johnson iind(^rtook to write this 
justly celebrated paper, he had many difh- 
culties to encounter. If, lamenting that dur- 
ing th(; long period which had elapsed since 
the conclusion of the A\Titings of Addison, 
vice and folly had begun to recover from 
depression and contempt, he wished again to 
rectify public taste and manners, to " give 
confidence to virtue and ardour to truth," he 
knew that the popularity of those writings 
had constituted them a precedent, whic-h his 
genius was incapable of following, and from 
which it would be dangerous to tlepart. In 
the character of an Essayist, he was hitherto 
unknown to the public. He had written 
nothing by which a favorable judgment could 


be formed of his success in a species of com- 
position, which seemed to requii*e the ease, 
and vivacity, and humour of polished life ; 
and he had, probably, often heard it repeated 
that Addison and his colleagues had antici- 
pated all the subjects fit for a popular essay : 
that he might, indeed, aim at varying or im- 
proving what had been said before, but could 
stand no chance of being esteemed an original 
writer, or of striking the imagination by new 
and unexpected reflections and incidents. He 
was likewise, perhaps, aware that he might 
be reckoned, what he about this time calls 
himself, " a retired and uncourtly scholar," 
unfit to describe, because precluded from the 
observation of refined society and manners. 

But they who pride themselves on long and 
accurate knowledge of the world, are not 
aware how little of that knowledge is neces- 
sary in order to expose vice, or detect absurd- 
ity ; nor can they believe that evidence, far 
short of ocular demonstration, is amply suffi- 
cient for the purposes of the wit and the 
moralist. Dr. Johnson appeared in the char- 
acter of a moral teacher with powers of mind 
beyond the common lot of man, and with a 
knowledge of the inmost recesses of the 
human heart, such as never was displayed 
with more elegance, or stronger conviction. 
Though, in some respects, a recluse, he had 
not been an inattentive observer of human 
life; and he was now of an age at which, 
probably, as much is known as can be known, 


and at which the full vii^rour of his faculties 
enabled him to divulge his experience and 
his observations, with a certainty that they 
were neither immature nor fallacious. He 
had studied, and he had noted the varieties 
of human character ; and it is evident, that 
the lesser improprieties of conduct, and errors 
of domestic life, had often been the subjects 
of his secret ridicule. 

Previously to the commencement of The 
Rambler, he had drawn the outlines of many 
essays, of which specimens may be seen in 
the biographies of Sir John Ilawkins, and 
Mr. Boswell ; and it is probable that the sen- 
timents of all these papers had been long 
floating in his mind. With such preparation, 
he began The Rambler without any communi- 
cation with his friends, or desire of assistance. 
Whether he proposed the scheme himself, 
does not appear ; but he was fortunate in 
fornung an engagement with Mr. John Payne, 
a bookseller in Paternoster-row, and after- 
w^ards the chief accountant in the bank of 
England;* a man with whom he lived many 
years in habits of friendsliip ; and who, on the 
present occasion, treated his author with great 

* This office he resigned .111110 30, 1785. lie IkuI In-en long 
the friend and disciple of Dr. .Jiiines Foster, an eminent dis- 
pcritf-r, !)Ut aftcr\v:iril-< hecanie no less an admirer of the pious 
William Law, and wrote a volume in his defence, a<jainst Dr. 
Warburton. Ho published also a volume of Evangelical Dis- 
courses, and gave a new Tran-lntion of Thoni;i> iv Keni{)is, being 
dis->ati-;lied witli the ll*o^e parapiiruse of Dean Stanhope. In all 
these his abilities appeared to considerable advaulugo. Ho dioU 
March 10, 17b7, at an advanced ago. 


liberality. He engaged to pay him two guineas 
for each paper, or four guineas per week, which 
at that time must have been to Johnson a very 
considerable sum ; and he admitted him to a 
share of the future profits of the work, when 
it should be collected into volumes; which 
share Johnson afterwards sold. 

The commencement of The Rambler was 
a matter of great importance with the author, 
as if he had foreseen that this work was here- 
after to constitute his principal fame ; and as 
he had wisely determined that his fame should 
rest as much on the good he had done, as on 
the pleasure he might afford, with his accus- 
tomed piety, he composed and offered up the 
following prayer, entitled " Prayer on The 

"Almighty God, the giver of all good things, 
without whose help all labor is ineSectual, and 
without whose grace all wisdom is folly; 
grant, I beseech Thee, that in this my under- 
taking thy Holy Spirit may not be withheld 
from me, but that I may promote thy glory, 
and the salvation both of myself and others ; 
grant this, O Lord, for the sake of Jesus 
Christ. Amen." 

It has already been noticed,* that objections 
have been offered to the name Rambler. In 
addition to what was then suggested on this 
subject, we may give the account he rendered 
to Sir Joshua Reynolds, which forms, prob- 

* Preftxce to the Guardian. 


ably, as good an excuse as so trifling a cir- 
cumstance demands. " What must be done, 
Sir, will be done. When I was to begin 
publishing that paper, I was at a loss how to 
name it. I sat down at night upon my bed- 
side, and resolved that I would not go to 
sleep till I had fixed its title. The Rambh^r 
seemed the best that occurred, and I took 
it." The Italians have literally translated 
this name by 11 Vagabondo. 

The first paper was published on Tuesday, 
March 20, 1749-30, and the work continued, 
without the least interruption, every Tuesday 
and Saturday, until Saturday, March 14,* 
1752, on which day it closed. Each number 
was handsomely printed on a sheet and a 
half of tine paper, at tlie price of two-pence, 
and with great typographical accuracy, not 
above a dozen errors occurring in the whole 
work ; a circumstance the more remarkable, 
because the copy was written in haste, as the 
tirne urged, and sent to the press without 
being revised by the author. When we con- 
sider that, in thci whole progress of the work, 
tlie sum of assistance he received scarcely 
amounted to five papers, we must wonder at 
the fertility of a mind engaged during the 
same period in that stupendous labour. The 
English Dictionary, and frecpieiitly distraeted 
by disease and anguish, 'i'here is not in the 
annals of literature an instance wliicii can be 

♦ Krroneously printed in the fol. edit. Murcli 17. 


brought as a parallel to this, if we take every 
circumstance into the account. Other Essay- 
ists have had the choice of their days, and 
their happy hours, for composition ; but Dr. 
Johnson knew no remission, although he very 
probably would have been glad of it, and 
yet continued to write with unabated vigor 
although even this disappointment might be 
supposed to have often rendered him uneasy, 
and his natural indolence — not the indolence 
of will, but of constitution — would in other 
men have palsied every effort. Towards the 
conclusion, there is so little of that " falling 
off" visible in some works of the same kind, 
that it might probably have been extended 
much further, had the encouragement of the 
public borne any proportion to its merits. 

The sale was very inconsiderable, and sel- 
dom exceeded five hundred ; and it is very 
remarkable, and a most curious trait in the 
taste of the age, that the only paper which 
had a prosperous sale, and may be said to 
have been ))opular, was one which Dr. Jolin- 
son did not write.* This was No. 97, written 
by Richardson, the author of Clarissa, Pamela, 
and Sir Charles Grandison. Dr. Johnson 
introduces it to his readers with an elegant 
com})liment, as tlie production " of an author 
from whom the age has received greater 
favours ; who has enlarged the knowledge of 
human nature, and taught the passions to 

* Upon tlio authority of Mr. Payne, communicated to Mr. 
Nichols, and by him to the present writer. 


move at the command of virtue." Greater 
favours the age had undoubtedly received from 
Richardson, for this paper is of very inferior 
merit, in point of style ; and, as to subject, 
proceeds upon an error that may be easily 
detected. It complains how much the modes 
of courtship are degenerated since the days 
of The Spectator, who repeatedly makes the 
same complaint. 

As the assistance Dr. Johnson received was 
so trifling, in respect to quantity, all the notice 
of it that is necessary may be dispatched 
before we proceed further. The four billets 
in No. 10 were written by Miss Mulso, after- 
wards Mrs. Chapoiie, who will come to be 
mentioned in the Preface to The Adventurer. 
No. 30 was WT-itten by Miss Catherine Talbot, 
a lady of whom a very exalted character has 
been handed down. She was the only daugh- 
ter of the Rev. Edward Talbot, Archdeacon 
of Berks, and Preacher at the Rolls. She 
possessed great natural talents, a vigorous 
understanding, a lively imagination, and 
refined taste. Her principal works, " Reflec- 
tions on the Seven Days of the Week," and 
" Essays on Various Subjects, 2 vols.," breathe 
the noblest spirit of Christian benevolence, 
and discover a more than common acquaint- 
ance with human nature. 

Miss Talbot lived many years in the family 
of Archbishop Seeker, who made a very 
lii)eral provision for her and her mother in his 
will, leaving them the interest, for their lives, 


of fourteen thousand pounds, which he di- 
rected to be afterwards given to various char- 
ities. During her residence with the venerable 
prelate, a singular occurrence took place. In 
1759, the unhappy Dr. Dodd published an 
edition of Bisliop Hall's Meditations, and 
dedicated them to Miss Talbot. This dedi- 
cation, however, was so strongly expressed as 
to give great offence to the Archbishop, who, 
after a warm epistolary expostulation, insisted 
on the sheet being cancelled in all the remain- 
ing copies. Dodd's object was preferment ; 
and he was weak enough to think no flattery 
too gross, by which his wish might be accom- 
plished. Miss Talbot died Jan. 9, 1770, in 
her 49th year. Besides the works already 
mentioned, she was the author of a beautiful 
and fanciful letter to a new-born child, daugh- 
ter of Mr. John Talbot, a son of the Lord 
Chancellor,* and was one of the writers in 
" The Athenian Letters." 

The only remaining contributor was Mrs. 
Elizabeth Carter, who wrote Nos. 44 and 100; 
and who, at the distance of half a century, 
enjoyed in full possession that liberal and 
enlightened mind, which had engaged the 
esteem and admiration of successive genera- 
tions of wits and scholars. Of this excellent 
lady. Dr. Johnson used to say, that her learn- 

* Annual Register, 1770. But a nmch more full and excellent 
account of this lady is given in Butler's Life of Bisliop Hildes- 
ley, wiiich I liad not seen, when the above sketch was prepared 
for the former edition of the British Essayists. 


ing did not interfere with her domestic duties. 
" She eould make a pudding as well as trans- 
late Epictetus from the Greek ; and work a 
handkerchief as well as compose a poem." 
He once composed a Greek epigram to Eliza 
(Carter), and declared that she ought to be 
celebrated in as many ditierent languages as 
Lewis le Grand. Mrs. Carter died Feb. 19, 
1806. Her Memoirs have since been pub- 
lished, in quarto and octavo, by her nephew 
and executor, the Rev. M. Pennington ; a 
work replete with valuable opinions and 
remarks on subjects connected with the lite- 
rary periods of her long life.* 

Such was the whole of the assistance our 
author received in the progress of this work, 
although, with the usual license of essayists, 
he speaks, in his tenth paper, " of the number 
of correspondents increasing upon him every 
day." Sir John Hawkins informs us that " he 
forbore to solicit assistance, and few pre- 
sumed to ofler it." That he forbore to solicit 
assistance may be readily believed, but it can- 
not be doubted that he would have been glad 
to receive it; and it is evident that he thank- 
fully accepted what he thought worthy of 
insertion. Every man who has undertaken a 
work of this descri})tion, will feel the distress 
of his situation, and know by experience, that 
he " who condemns himself to compose on a 
stated day, will often bring to his task an 

* The second letter iu No. 107 was from an unknown corre- 



attention dissipated, a memory embarrassed, 
an imagination overwhelmed, a mind dis- 
tracted with anxieties, a body languishing 
with disease ; he will labor on a barren topic, 
till it is too late to change it ; or, in the ardor 
of invention, diftlise his thoughts into wild 
exuberance, which the pressing law of publi- 
cation cannot suffer judgment to examine or 
reduce." * Yet, in perusing The Rambler, 
who can discover the obstructions so feel- 
ingly lamented in this passage — the dissi- 
pated attention — the embarrassed memory 
— or the distracted mind ? That the author's 
morbid melancholy gave a certain tinge to 
his sentiments may be frequently discovered ; 
but, as compositions, we can discover in them 
no defects that are not common to those who, 
though writing at ease, write rapidly, and 
without revision. This remark, however, ap- 
plies only to what is not now before the pub- 
lic, the first edition of these papers, and will 
be more amply illustrated hereafter. 

The Rambler made its way very slowly 
into the world. All scholars, all men of taste, 
saw its excellence at once, and crowded round 
the author to solicit his friendship, and relieve 
his anxieties. It procured him a multitude 
of friends and admirers among men distin- 
guished for rank as well as genius ; and, if 
the expression be pardonable, it constituted 
an ample and perpetual apology for that rug- 

* Rambler, last paper. 


ged and uncourtly manner Avhich sometimes 
rendered his conversation formidable, and to 
those who looked from the book to the man, 
presented a contrast that would no doubt fre- 
quently excite amazement. The ditlerence, 
however, between an author and his writings, 
and the folly of expecting that the graces of 
style and of manners should be inseparable, 
are illustrated by himself in a comparison, 
perhaps one of the most striking in the Eng- 
lisli language. " A transition from an author's 
book to his conversation, is too often like an 
entrance into a large city, after a distant 
prospect. Remotely, we see nothing but 
spires of temples, and turrets of palaces, 
and imagine it the residence of splendor, 
grandeur, and magnificence ; but, when we 
have passed the gates, we find it perplexed 
with narrow passages, disgraced with des- 
picable cottages, embarrassed with obstruc- 
tions, and clouded with smoke." * 

Such, indeed, was his fate when viewed 
with common eyes, when visited by those 
who said they admired, but could not love 
him; and who did not discover that the love 
which is fixed upon superficial accomplish- 
ments, in preference to vigor of mind and 
imagination, was not that which Dr. John- 
son would court. Still, it must be confessed, 
there were, at first, many prejudices against 
The Rambler to be overcome. The style was 

* Rambler, No. 14. 


new ; it appeared harsh, involved, and per- 
plexed ; it required more than a transitory 
inspection to be understood ; it did not suit 
those who run as they read, and who seldom 
return to a book if the hour which it helped 
to dissipate can be dissipated by more active 
pleasures. When reprinted in volumes, how- 
ever, the sale gradually increased : it was 
recommended by the friends of religion and 
lierature, as a book by which a man might 
be taught to think ; and the author lived to 
see ten large editions printed in England, be- 
sides those which were clandestinely printed 
in other parts of Great Britain, in Ireland, 
and in America. Since his death, at least 
ten more may be added to this number. 

Of the characters described in The Rambler, 
some were not altogether fictitious. Pros- 
pero, in No. 200, was intended for Garrick; 
although the character is heightened some- 
what beyond nature, which is frequently 
necessary to make vanity more ridiculous. 
Yet, notwithstanding the vast disproportion 
in their fates, for which, if there was any 
blame, it rested with the public, Dr. Johnson 
would not tamely suffer Garrick's character 
to be injured, while he reserved to himself the 
privilege of laughing at his foibles ; and the 
concluding passage of • tlie paper in question, 
was probably written from a consciousness 
that there was more of temper than judgment 
in the character drawn by Asper. 

It is singular that Swift, likewise, had a 


friend on whose success in life he coukl not 
always look with complacency. " Stratford, 
(a merchant,) is worth a plum, and is now 
lending the government X40,000, yet we were 
educated together at the same school and 
university." * Budgell in Spectator, No. 3-33, 
thus describes these school-fellows : " One of 
them was not only thought an impenetrable 
blockhead at school, but still maintained his 
reputation at the university ; the other was 
the pride of his master, and the most cele- 
brated person in the college of which he w^as 
a member. The man of genius is at present 
buried in a country parsonage of eight score 
pounds a year ; while the other, with the bare 
abilities of a comjnon scrivener, has got an 
estate of above an hundred thousand pounds." 
But these inequalities are too common, and 
too well sanctioned, to be removed either by 
complaint or envy. Whoever is ambitious 
of literary fame must be content with the 
terms on which the world has been pleased 
to grant it; and this Johnson knew, for no 
man ever complained less of public neglect. 

Mrs. Piozzi in forms us that by Ge/idus, the 
philosopher, No. 24, the author meant to 
represent Mr. Coulson, a mathematician, who 
formerly lived at Rochester. The man " im- 
mortalized for purring like a cat," was one 
Busby, a proctor in the Commons. He who 
barked so ingeniously, and then called the 

« Swift's Work?, vol. 22, p. 10. cr. oct. 


drawer to drive away the dog, was father to 
Dr. Salter of the Charter-house. He who 
sung a song, and by coiTespondent motions 
of his arm chalked out a giant on the wall, 
was one Richardson, an attorney. For these 
assignments I know of no other authority. 
Dr. Salter, senior, when Dr. Johnson became 
acquainted with him, was a man of seventy 
years, and a member of the Ivy-lane Club. 
He had, probably, told the company that this 
barking like a dog was a trick of his youth, 
and Johnson might introduce it without any 
disrespect to his friend. Mr. Boswell has 
heard him relate, with much satisfaction, that 
several of the characters in The Rambler were 
drawn so naturally, that, when it first circu- 
lated in numbers, the members of a club in 
one of the towns in Essex, imagined them- 
selves to be severally exhibited in it, and 
were much incensed against a person, who, 
they suspected, had thus made them objects 
of public notice ; nor were they quieted till 
authentic assurance was given them, that The 
Rambler was written by a person who had 
never heard of any one of them.* 

The Rambler was reprinted in London, in 
six volumes, 12mo., for Payne and Bouquet, 
1752 ; and about the same time an edition 
was published in Scotland, of which Mr. Bos- 
well gives the following account. 

* Polyphilus, in No. 19, is said to have been drawn from the 
vari(nis studies of Floyer Sydeniiam, but no produce of his 
studies is known, except his translations. 


" Mr. James Elphinstono, -who lias since 
published various works, and who was ever 
esteemed by Johnson as a worthy man, hap- 
pened to be in Scotland when The Rambler 
was coming out in single papers at London. 
With a laudable zeal, at once, for the improve- 
ment of his countrymen, and the reputation of 
his friend, he suggested and took the charge 
of an edition of those Essays, at Edinburgh, 
which followed, progressively, the London 
publication. It was executed in the printing- 
oliice of Sands, IMurray, and Cochran, with 
uncommon elegance, upon writing-paper, of 
a duodecimo size, and with the greatest cor- 
rectness ; and ^Ir. Elphinstone enriched it 
with translations of the mottoes. When com- 
pleted, it made eight handsome volumes. It 
is, unquestionably, the most accurate and 
beautiful edition of this work ; and there 
being but a small impression, it is now be- 
come scarce, and sells at a very high price." 

This account is not given with Mr. Bos- 
well's usual precision in matters of fact. 
Either he never saw this Edinburgh edition, 
or he never took the trouble to compare a 
single page of it with any London edition, in 
order to ascertain the great accuracy which 
he extols. That it is a publication distin- 
guished for typographical beauty, is undeni- 
able, but it is a literal copy of the folio 
Raml)ler, without one of the many thousand 
alterations, which Dr. Jolmson made in the 
Lontlon second and third editions. These 


alterations, indeed, form a part of the history 
of this work, with which Mr. Boswell appears 
to have been totally unacquainted ; nor have 
I found any of the few surviving friends of 
the author aware of it. The circumstance, 
however, is of such importance as to require 
some detail. It is something to have gleaned 
a new fact after sq careful an inquirer as Mr. 

The general opinion entertained by Dr. 
Johnson's friends was, that he wrote as cor- 
rectly and elegantly in haste, and under 
various obstructions of person and situation, 
as other men can, who have health, and ease, 
and leisure for the limce labor. 

Mr. Boswell says, with great truth, that 
" Posterity will be astonished when they are 
told, upon the authority of Johnson himself, 
that many of these discourses, which we 
should suppose had been labored with all the 
slow attention of literary leisure, were written 
in haste, as the moment pressed, without even 
being read over by him before they were 
printed. It can be accounted for only in this 
way : that by reading and meditation, and a 
very close inspection of life, he had accumu- 
lated a great fund of miscellaneous know- 
ledge, which, by a peculiar promptitude of 
mind, was ever ready at his call, and which 
he .had constantly accustomed himself to 
clothe in the most apt and energetic expres- 
sion. Sir Joshua Reynolds once asked him 
bv what means he had attained his extra- 


ordinary accuracy and flow of language. He 
told him that he had early laid it down, as a 
fixed rule, to do Ins best on every occasion, 
and in every company: to impart whatever 
he knew, in the most forcible language he 
could put it in ; and that by constant prac- 
tice, and never suffering any careless expres- 
sions to escape him, or attempting to deliver 
his thouo^hts without arransrins: them in the 
clearest manner^ it became habitual to him."* 
Mr. Boswell afterwards remarks that those 
Essays, for which the author had made no 
preparation, in his Adversaria^ or Common- 
place-book, " are as rich and as highl// finish- 
ed as those for which hints were lying by 

Sir John Hawkins informs us, that these 
Essays hardly ever underwent a revision 
before they were sent to the press, and adds, 
" The original manuscripts of The Rambler 
have passed through my hands, and by the 
perusal of them, 1 am warranted to say, as 
was said of Shakspeare by the players of his 
time, that he never blotted out a line^ and I 
believe w^ithout the risk of that retort which 
Ben Jonson made to them, ' Would he had 
blotted out a thousand.' " | 

* Life of Johnson, vol. i, p. 178-9, 2d. edit. t Ibid. 

X Hawkins, p. 381, which is confirmed by the followiiiji; pas- 
sage in Boswell's Life, vol. ii. p. 405. Johnson " told us, ahriost 
Jill his Ramblers were written just as they were wanted for the 
press; that he sent a certain portion of the copy of an essay, 
and wrote the remainder, while the former jjart of it was print- 
ing. When it was wanted, and he had fairly sat down to it, ho 
was sure it would be done." 


Mr. Murphy, a more agreeable authority 
on a question of taste and composition, 
classes Dr. Johnson among those writers 
who, using his own words in his Ufe of Pope, 
" employ at once memory and invention, and 
with little intermediate use of the pen, form 
and polish large masses by continued medita- 
tion, and write their productions only when, 
in their opinion, they have completed them. 
This last," Mr. Murphy adds, " was Johnson's 
method. He never took his pen in hand till 
he had well weighed his subject, and grasped 
in his mind the sentiments, the train of argu- 
ment, and the arrangement of the whole. As 
he often thought aloud, he had, perhaps, 
talked it over to himself. This may account 
for that rapidity with which, in general, he 
dispatched his sheets to the press, without 
being at the trouble of a fair copy."* 

Such are the opinions of those friends of 
Dr. Johnson who had long lived in his society, 
had studied his writings, and were eager to 
give to the public every information by which 
its curiosity to know the history of so emi- 
nent a character might be gratified. But by 
what fatality it has happened that they were 
ignorant of the vast labour Dr. Johnson em- 
ployed in correcting this work after it came 
from the first press, it is not easy to deter- 
mine. This circumstance, indeed, might not 
fall within the scope of Mr. Murphy's elegant 

* Murphy's Essay on the Life aud Genius of Dr. Johnson, 
p. 103, edit. 1793. 


Essay ; but had it been known to Sir Jolin 
Hawkins, or to Mr. Boswell, they would, un- 
doubtedly, have been eager to bring it forward 
as an important event in Dr. Johnson's liter- 
ary history. Mr. Boswell has given us some 
various readings of the " Lives of the Poets," 
and the reader will probably agree with him, 
that although the author's " amendments in 
that work are for the better, there is nothing 
of the pannus afflatus ; the texture is uniform, 
and, indeed, what had been there at first is 
very seldom unfit to have remained." * At 
the conclusion of these various readings, he 
offers an apology, of which I may be permit- 
ted to avail myself. — " Should it be objected, 
that many of my various readings are incon- 
siderable, those who make the objection will 
be pleased to consider, that such small partic- 
ulars are intended for those who are nicely 
critical in composition, to whom they will be 
an acceptable collection." 

Is it not surprising that this friend and 
companion of our illustrious author, who has 
obliged the public with the most perfect deli- 
neation ever exhibited of any human being, 

* These were the alterations made by the author in tlie man- 
uscript, or in the proof before pubhcation for tlic second eilition. 
Mr. Hoswell does not seem to have known that Dr. .loluison 
made so many alterations for the third edition as to induce Mr. 
Nichols to collect them in an octavo pamphlet of three sheets 
closely priyted, which was given to the purchasers of the second 
octavo edition. Since Mr. Nichols obligingly furnished me with 
the history of this j):imj)hlet, I have been the less surjirised at 
Mr. lios well's not suspecting the alterations in The lituubler. 


and who declared so often that he was deter- 

To lose no drop of that immortal man; 

that one so inquisitive after the most trifling 
circumstance connected with Dr. Johnson's 
character or history, should have never heard 
or discovered that Dr. Johnson almost rewrote 
The Rambler after the first folio edition ? Yet 
the fact was, that he employed the limcB labo- 
rem not only on the second, but on the third 
edition, to an extent I presume never known 
in the annals of literature, and may be said 
to have carried Horace's rule far beyond 
either its letter or spirit : — 

— carmen reprehendite, quod non 
Multa dies et multa litura coercuit, atque 
Perfectixm decies non castigavit ad unguem. 

Never the verse approve, and hold as good, 
'Till many a day and many a blot has wi'ought 
The polished work, and chasten'd every thought, 
By tenfold labour to perfection brought. colman. 

The alterations made by Dr. Johnson in the 
second and third editions of The Rambler far 
exceed six thousand ; a number which may 
perhaps justify the use of the word rewrote, 
although it must not be taken in. its literal 
acceptation. If it be asked of what nature 
are these alterations, or why that was altered 
which the world thought perfect, the author 
may be allowed to answer for himself. Not- 
withstanding its fame, while printing in single 


numbers, the encomiums of the learned, and 
the applause of friends, he knew its imper- 
fections, and determined to remove them. 
He foresaw that upon this foundation his 
future fame would in a great measure rest, 
and he determined that the superstructure 
thrown up in haste, should be strengthened 
and perfected at leisure. A few passages 
from No. 169 will explain his sentiments on 
this subject. 

" Men have sometimes appeared of such 
transcendent abilities, that their slightest and 
most cursory performances excel all that labour 
and study can enable meaner intellects to 
compose : as there are regions of which the 
spontaneous products cannot be equalled in 
other soils by care and culture. But it is no 
less dangerous for any man to place himself 
in this rank of understanding, and fancy that 
he is born to be illustrious witliout labour, than 
to omit the cares of husbandry, and expect 
from his ground the blossoms of Arabia." 
" iVmong the writers of antiquity I remember 
none, except Statins, who ventures to mention 
the speedy production of his writings, either 
as an extenuation of his fault, or as a proof 
of his facility. Nor did Statins, when he 
considered himself as a candidate for lasting 
reputation, think a closer attention unneces- 
sary, ])ut, amidst all his i)ride and indigence, 
the two great hasteners of modern poems, 
employed twelve years upon the Thebaid, 
and thinks his claim to renown proportionate 


to his labour." " To him whose eagerness of 
praise hurries his productions soon into the 
light, many imperfections are unavoidable, 
even \\rhere the mind furnishes the materials, 
as well as regulates their disposition, and 
nothing depends upon search or information. 
Delay opens new veins of thought, the sub- 
ject dismissed for a time appears with a new 
train of dependent images, the accidents of 
reading or conversation supply new orna- 
ments or allusions, or mere intermission of 
the fatigue of thinking enables ' the mind to 
collect new force, and make new excursions." 
With such sentiments, it must appear at 
least probable that our author would, in his 
own case, endeavour to repair the mischiefs 
of haste or negligence ; but as these were not 
very obvious to his friends, they made no 
inquiry after them, nor entertained any sus- 
picion of the labour he endured to render his 
wiitings more worthy of their praise ; and 
when his contemporaries had departed, he 
might not think it necessary to tell a new 
generation that he had not reached perfection 
at once. On one occasion, Mr. Boswell came 
so near the question, that if Dr. Johnson had 
thought it worth entering upon, he had a 
very fan* opportunity. Being asked, by a lady, 
whether he thought he could make his Ram- 
bler better, he answered that he certainly 
could. Boswell : ' I'll lay you a bet. Sir, 
you cannot.' Johnson : ' But I will. Sir, if I 
choose. I shall make the best of them you 


shall pick out, better.' Boswcll', ' But you 
may add to them, I will not allow of that.' 
Johnson, ' Nay, Sir, there are three ways of 
making them better ; putting out, adding, or 

Perhaps, at this moment, Quintilian's re- 
marks on correction might have occmTcd in 
his memory. " Hujus operis est, adjicere, 
detrahere, mutare. Sed facilius in his sim- 
pliciusque judicium, qu£e replenda vel dejici- 
enda sunt ; premere vero tumentia, humilia 
extollere, luxuriantia astringere, inordinata 
dirigere, soluta componere, exultantia co- 
ercere, duplicis operae." 

And these, indeed, were the instructions 
he followed, but with such minute attention 
to little things, such fastidious objection to 
what seems orderly and harmonious, and 
such copious omissions and additions as 
probably never would have appeared neces- 
sary to any mind but his own, and may 
justify our advancing aliother passage of The 
Rambler against himself : " Some seem 
always to read with the microscope of criti- 
cism, and employ their whole attention upon 
minute elegance, or faults scarcely visible to 
common observation. The dissonance of a 
syllable, the recurrence of the same sound, 
the repetition of a particle, the smallest de- 
viation from propriety, the slightest defect in 
construction or arrangement, swell before their 
eyes into enormities." 

These are some of the objects of his cor- 


rectinghand; but, as the original folio is now 
become very scarce, I shall exhibit a specimen 
of the greater part of his ' various readings ' 
and alterations, by the transcription of a 
whole paper, marking by italics the varia- 
tions. This, to some, will probably be accept- 
able as a literary curiosity. " Such relics 
show how excellence is acquired ; what we 
hope ever to do with ease, we must learn 
first to do with diligence.""* This is my 
sanction for exhibiting the paper in its original 
state, and recommending a careful compari- 
son with .the edition in these volumes, by 
which it will be found as much to the honour 
of his industry, as to the advantage of his 
readers, that " he reformed his first thoughts 
by subsequent examination ; and polished 
away those faults which the precipitance of 
ardent composition is likely to leave behind 
it." Let me add, on the same authority, that 
" to those who have skill to estimate the 
excellence and difficulty of this great work, 
it must be very desirable to know how it was 
performed, and by what gradations it ad- 
vanced to correctness. Of such an intellect- 
ual process the knowledge has very rarely 
been attainable ; " but, in the present case, 
the discovery having once been made, it re- 
quires only the trouble of collation. What 
om- author has said of Pape may be applied, 
with the greatest truth, to himself. " He 

* Johnson's Life of Milton. 


laboured his works fu'st to gain reputation, and 
afterwards to keep it." " He was not content 
to satisfy ; he desired to excel, and therefore 
always endeavoured to do his best; he did 
not court the candour, but dared the judgment 
of his readers ; and, expecting no indulgence 
from others, he showed none to himself. He 
examined lines and words with minute and 
])unctilious observation, and retouched every 
part with indefatigable diligence, till he had 
left nothing to be forgiven." But enough of 
resemblances and authorities. 


It is somewhere related by Le Clerc, that 
a wealthy trader of good understanding, hav- 
ing the usual ambition to breed his son a 
scholar, carried him to an university, resolv- 
ing to make use of his own judgment in the 
choice of a tutor. He had been taught, by 
whatever intelligence, the nearest way to the 
heart of an academic, and soon after his arri- 
val opened his purse ivith so little reserve^ and 
entertained all who came about him with 
such ])rofusion of plenty^ that the Professors 
were presently lured by the smell of his table 
from their books, and Hocked round him with 
all the importunity of aukward complaisance. 
This eagerness completely answered the mer- 
chant's purpose ; he glutted them with delica- 
cies, he cheared them ivith tvine, he softened 
them with caresses, and by des;-rces^ prevailed 
upon one after anotlier to open his bosom, 

VOL. XVI. 3 


and make a full discovery of his schemes of 
competition his alarm of jealousy and his 
rancour of lesentment. Thus, after having- 
long eyideavoured to learn each man's charac- 
ter, partly from himself, and partly from his 
acquaintances, he at last resolved to find 
some other method of educatmg- his son, and 
went away fully convinced that a scholastic 
life has no other tendency than to vitiate the 
morals, and contract the understanding. Nor 
could he afterwards bear with patience the 
praises of the ancient authors, being per- 
suaded that scholars of all ages must have 
been the same ; and that Xenophon and 
Cicero were nothing more than Professors 
of some former Universitv, and ivere there- 
fore mean and selfish, ignorant and servile, 
like those whom he had lately visited and 

Envy, curiosity, and the sense of the im- 
perfection of our present state, incline us 
always to estimate the advantages which are 
in the possession of others above then' real 
value. Every man must have remarked, what 
powers and prerogatives the vulgar imagine 
to be conferred by learning. A man of science 
is expected to excel the unenlightened and 
unlettered, even on occasions where litera- 
ture is of no use ; and, among weak minds, 
loses part of his reverence by discovering no 
superiority in those parts of life, in which all 
are unavoidably equal ; as, when a monarch 
makes a progress to the remoter provinces, 


the rustics are said sometimes to wonaer that 
they find him of the same size with them- 

Attempts to satisfy the demands of prejudice 
and folly, are hopeless and vain, and therefore, 
many of the imputations which learning suf- 
fers from disappointed ignorance, are without 
reproach. Nor can it be denied, that there are 
some failures to which men of study are pe- 
culiarly exposed. Every condition has its 
disadvantages. The circle of knowledge is 
too wide for the most active and diligent in- 
tellect, and while some sciences are pursued 
tvith ardour, others, perhaps of equal use, are 
necessarili/ neglected; as a small garrison 
must leave one part of an extensive fortress 
naked when an alarm calls them to another. 

The learned, however, might generally sup- 
port their dignity with more success, if they 
suft'ered not themselves to be misled by the 
desire of superfluous attainments, of accom- 
plishments which feio can understand, or value, 
and of s/iilhvhich they may sink into the grave 
tvithout any conspicuous opportunities of exert- 
ing. Raphael, in return to Adam's inquiries 
into the course of the stars, and the revolu- 
tions of heaven, counsels him to withdraw 
his mind from idle speculations, and, instead 
of ivatching motions ivhich he has no power to 
regulate, to employ his faculties upon nearer 
and more interesting objects, the survey of 
his own life, the subjection of his passions, 
the knowledsre of those duties which must 


daily be performed, and the detection of tliose 
dangers which must daily be incurred. 

The angelic counsel every man of letters 
should always have before him. He that de- 
votes himself to the privacies of study, natu- 
rally sinks from neglect to oblivion of social 
duties, to which he must be sometimes awak- 
ened and restored to the general condition of 

I am far from any intention to limit curi- 
osity, or to confine the labours of learning to 
arts of immediate and necessary use. It is 
only from the various essays of experimental 
industry, and the vague excursions of minds 
sent out upon discovery, that any advance- 
ment of knowledge can be expected, and 
though many may labour only to be disap- 
pointed, yet they are not to be charged with 
having spent their time in vain ; since their 
example contributed to inspirit emulation, 
and, perhaps^ their miscarriages taught others 
the way to success. 

But the distant hope of being one day use- 
ful or eminent, ought not to mislead us from 
that knowledge^ which is equally requisite to 
the great and mean, to the celebrated and 
obscure ; the art of moderating the desires, 
of repressing the appetites, and of conciliat- 
ing or deserving the favour of mankind. 

No man, surely^ can think the conduct of 
his own life unworthy his attention, yet, 
among the sons of learning, many may be 
founds who seem to have thought of every 


thing rather than of themselves, and have 
never condescended to observe ivhat passes 
daily before their eyes. Men^ who, ivhile they 
are toiling through the intricacy of compli- 
cated systems, are insuperably embarrassed 
with the least perplexity in common affairs ; 
and luhile they are comparing the actions, and 
ascertaining the characters of ancient heroes, 
let their days glide away without examina- 
tion, and suffer vicious habits to encroach 
upon their minds without resistance or detec- 

One o/the most frequent reproaches of the 
scholastic race is the want of fortitude, of 
fortitude^ not martial, but philosophic. That 
men bred in shades and silence, taught to 
immure themselves at sunset, and accustom- 
ed to no other weapon than syllogisms, should 
be easily terrified by personal danger, and 
disconcerted by tumult and alarm, is by no 
means ivonderful. But why should not he, 
whose life is spent in contemplation, and 
whose business is only to discover truth, be 
able to rectify the fallacies of imagination, 
and contend successfully against prejudice 
and passion ? Why should he give up his 
understanding to false appearances, and suf- 
fer himself, like the meanest of the vulgar, 
to be dazzled with the glitter of prosperity, to 
be enslaved by fear of evils, to which only 
folly or vanity can expose him, or elated by 
hope of advantages luhich can add nothing 
to a wise man, and to which, as they are 


equally conferred upon the good and bad, no 
real dignity is annexed. 

Such, however, is the state of the world, 
that the most obsequious of the slaves of 
pride, the most rapturous of the gazers upon 
wealth, the most officious of the whisperers 
of greatness, are to he collected from these 
seminaries, ivhich are appropriated to the 
study of wisdom, and the contemplation of 
virtue, in which it was intended, that the 
appetite should learn to be content with 
little, and hope to aspire to honours which 
no human power can give or take away. 

The student when he comes forth into the 
world, instead of congratulating himself upon 
his exemption from the errors and failures to 
which he sees those liable whose opinions have 
not been formed by precept and meditation^ is 
commonly in haste to shake from him all that 
distinguishes him from the rest of mankind^ 
to mingle with the multitude, and show his 
sprightliness and ductility by an expeditious 
compliance with fashions, pleasures^ or vices. 
The first smile of a man whose rank or fortune 
gives him power to reward his dependents, 
commonly enchants him beyond resistance : 
the glare of equipage, the sweets of luxury, 
the liberality of general promises, and softness 
of habitual affability, strike his senses^ and fill 
his imagination, and he soon ceases to have 
any other wish than to be well received, or 
any measure of right and wrong than the 
opinion of his patron. 


A man flattered and obeyed, soon learns to 
exact grosser adulation, and enjoin lower sub- 
mission. Neither our virtues nor vices are all 
our own : if there were no cowardice, there 
would be little insolence : a man cannot gi'oiv 
proud to any great degree, but by the concur- 
rence of blandishment, or the sufferance of 
tameness. The wretch that would shrink and 
crouch before hlni that should dart his eye 
upon him with the spirit of natural equality, 
quick/// becomes capricious and tyrannical 
when he seems himself approached, with a 
downcast look, and hears the soft address of 
awe and servility. To the folly 0/ those who 
are willing to purchase favour and preferment 
by cringes and compliance, is to be imputed 
that general depravity that leaves nothing to 
be hoped by firmness and integrity. 

If instead of wandering after the meteors of 
philosophy which till the world with splendour 
for a while, and then sink and are forgotten, 
the candidates of learning iro^/Zc/y/.f their eyes 
upon the permanent and immutable lustre of 
moral truth, they would find a more certain 
direction to honour and to happiness. A little 
power of discourse, and a little acquaintance 
with unnecessary speculation, is dearly pur- 
chased when it excludes those instructions 
which fortify the heart with resolution, and 
exalt the spirit to independence. 

The limits of this preface will not allow me 
to add much to the above specimen, yet to 


those who have studied the varieties of Dr. 
Johnson's style at different periods of his life, 
the following will appear characteristic. It is 
the translation, in No. 48, from the fragment 
of a Greek poet. 

" Health, most venerable of the powers of 
heaven ! with thee may the remaining part of 
my life be spent : nor do thou refuse to cohabit 
with me. For whatever there is of beauty or 
of pleasure in wealth, in descendants, in sove- 
reign command, the highest summit of human 
enjoyment, or in those objects of desire which 
we endeavour to chase into the toils of love ; 
whatever delight, or whatever solace is afforded 
by the celestials /or the relief of the fatigues of 
man; in thy presence, thou parent of happi- 
ness ! joys spread out and flourish ; in thy 
presence blooms the spring of pleasure, and 
without thee no man is blestJ^ In the second 
edition these last words were altered to there 
is no gladness, but in the thkd to no man is 

The following short passage is given as 
containing corrections which are not merely 

Treating of that gi-eat peculiarity of Milton's 
versification, the suppression of the last sylla- 
ble of a word ending with a vowel, when a 
vowel begins the following word, No. 88, he 
remarks ; 

" This license, though an innovation in Eng- 
lish poetry, is yet allowed in many other lan- 
guages, ancient and modern, and therefore the 


critics on Paradise Lost, have, without much 
deliberation, commended Milton for introduc- 
ing it." Instances of this kind, however, are 
very rare, the greatest proportion of alterations 
being those of language. 

After these extracts, which, if I do not de- 
ceive myself, exhibit this writer in a character 
that has, for whatever reason, escaped the in- 
quiries of his biogi'aphers, little remains to be 
said on the history of The Rambler. When 
it had passed two or three editions, an index 
was thought of, but this being a task unwor- 
thy of its author's talents, who was not of the 
opinion given by an old Spanish waiter — indi- 
ceni libri ab autorc^ libruni ipsum a quovis alio 
confide tidnm — the Rev. Mr. Flexman, an in- 
dex-maker by profession, was employed. Of 
his success, Mr. BosweJl has given an anecdote, 
which is worth transcribing, as an additional 
proof of what has been often contested, Dr. 
Johnson's high veneration for Milton : — 

" Johnson would sometimes found his dis- 
likes on very slender circumstances. Happen- 
ing one day to mention Mr. Flexman, a dis- 
senting minister, with some compliment to his 
exact memory in chronological matters, the 
doctor repUed : ' Let me hear no more of him, 
Sir ; that is the fellow who made the index 
to my Ramblers, and set down the name of 
Milton thus: Milton, Mr. Jolinr' 

If Mr. Boswell had examined this index, 
he would have discovered anotlicr gross 
breach of the courtesy of literature, no less 


than — Shakspeare, Mr. William; and both 
have been retained in every edition, except 
the present. Besides the barbarism of- any 
appendage to names which are doomed, by 
the general opinion of mankind, to stand alone, 
Flexman, in these instances, erred against the 
principles of index-making by introducing 
what was not to be found in the body of the 
work ; and he ought to have known that the 
honours of the surname were given to Shaks- 
peare and Milton at least half a century be- 

The mottoes of The Rambler were translat- 
ed soon after its first publication in the Gentle- 
man's Magazine, partly from the Edinburgh 
edition, above mentioned, partly by the author, 
and partly by the Rev. F. Lewis, of Chiswick, 
whom Dr. Johnson described thus, to Mr. 
Ma] one : " Sir, he lived in London, and hung 
loose upon society." Some of the original 
mottoes were changed in the second edition 
for others more appropriate.* 

On the general merit of this work, it is 
now unnecessary to expatiate : the prejudices 
which were alarmed by a new style and man- 
ner have long subsided; critics and gram- 
marians have pointed out what they thought 
defective, or dangerous for imitation ; and al- 
though a new set of objectors have appeared 

* Dr. Warton was of opinion that the mottoes prefixed to 
the Ramblers and Adventurers were not very happy, and that 
the attempt to translate them was absurd. Mr. Payne, the pub- 
lisher, expresses the same sentiments in a letter to Dr. Warton 
now before me. 


since the author's death, the world has not 
been much swayed in its opinions by that 
hostility which is restrained until it can be 
vented with impunity. The few laboured and 
perhaps pedantic sentences which occur, have 
been selected and repeated with incessant 
malignity, but without the power of depre- 
ciation ; and they who have thus found John- 
son to be obscure and unintelligible, might, 
with similar partiality, celebrate Shakspeare 
only for his puns and his quibbles. Luckily, 
however, for the taste and improvement of 
the age, these objections are not very prev- 
alent ; and the general opinion, founded on 
actual observation, is, that although Dr. John- 
son is not to be imitated with perfect success, 
yet the attempt to imitate him, where it has 
neither been servile nor artificial, has elevated 
the style of every species of literary composi- 
tion. In every thing, we perceive more vigour, 
more spirit, more elegance. He not only be- 
gan a revolution in our language, but lived 
till it was almost completed. 

With respect to the plan of The Rambler, 
he may surely be said to have executed what 
he intended : he has successfully attempted 
the propagation of truth ; and boldly main- 
tained the dignity of virtue. He has accu- 
mulated in this work a treasure of moral 
science, which will not be soon exhausted. 
He has laboured to refine our language to 
grammatical purity, and to clear it from col- 
loquial barbarisms, licentious idioms, and ir- 


regular combinations. Something he cer- 
tainly has added to the elegance of its con- 
struction, and something to the harmony of 
its cadence.* 

Comparisons have been formed between 
The Rambler and its predecessors, or rather 
between the genius of Johnson and of Addi- 
son, but have generally ended in discovering 
a total want of resemblance. As they were 
both original writers, they must be tried, if 
tried at all, by laws applicable to their respec- 
tive attributes. But neither had a prede- 
cessor. We can find no humour like Addi- 
son's ; no energy and dignity like Johnson's. 
They had nothing in common, but moral ex- 
cellence of character; they could not have 
exchanged styles for an hour. Yet there is 
one respect in which we must give Addison 
the preference, more general utility. His 
writings would have been understood at any 
period ; Johnson's would have, perhaps, been 
unintelligible a century ago, and are calcu- 
lated for the more improved and liberal edu- 
cation now so common. In both, however, 
what was peculiar, was natural. The earliest 
of Dr. Johnson's works confirm this ; from 
the moment he could write at all, he wrote in 
stately periods ; and his conversation, from 
first to last, abounded in the peculiarities of 
his composition. In general we may say, 
with Seneca, Riget ejus oratio, nihil in ea 

* Kambler, last paper. 


placidum, nihil lene. Addison's style was the 
direct reverse of this. — If the " Lives of the 
Poets" be thought an exception to Dr. John- 
son's general habit of Avriting, let it be re- 
membered that he was, for the most part, con- 
fined to dates and facts, to illustrations and 
criticisms, and quotations ; but when he in- 
dulged himself in moral reflections, to which 
he delighted to recur, we have again the rigor 
and loftiness of The Rambler, and only miss 
some of what have been termed his liard 

Addison principally excelled in the obser- 
vation of manners, and in that exquisite ridi- 
cule he threw on the minute improprieties of 
life. Johnson, although by no means igno- 
rant of life and manners, could not descend 
to familiarities with tuckers and commodes, 
with fans and hoop-petticoats. A scholar by 
profession, and a writer from necessity, he 
loved to bring forward subjects so near and 
dear as the disappointments of authors — the 
dangers and miseries of literary eminence — 
anxieties of literature — contrariety of criti- 
cism — miseries of patronage — value of 
fame — causes of the contempt of the learn- 
ed — prejudices and caprices of criticism — 
vanity of an author's expectations — mean- 
ness of dedication — necessity of literary 
courage ; and all those other subjects which 
relate to authors and their connection with 
the public. Sometimes whole j)apers are de- 
voted to what may be termed the personal 


concerns of men of literature ; and incidental 
reflections are everywhere interspersed for the* 
instruction or caution of the same class.* 

When he treats of common life and man- 
ners, it has been observed that he gives to 
the lowest of his correspondents the same 
style and lofty periods ; and it may also be 
noticed, that the ridicule he attempts is, in 
some cases, considerably heightened by this 
very want of accommodation of character. 
Yet it must be allowed that the levity and 
giddiness of coquets and fine ladies are ex- 
pressed with great difficulty in the Johnsonian 
language. It has been objected, also, that 
even the names of his ladies have very little 
of the air either of court or city, as Zosima, 
•Properantia, &c. Every age seems to have 
its peculiar names of fiction. In the Specta- 
tor's time, the Damons and Phillises, the 
Amintors, Amandas, and Cleoras, &c., were 
the representatives of every virtue and every 
folly. These were succeeded by the Phila- 
monts, Tenderillas, Timoleons, Seomanthes, 
Pantheas, Adrastas, and Bellimantes ; names 
to which Mrs. Heywood gave currency in her 
Female Spectator ; and from which, at no 
great distance of time, Dr. Johnson appears 
to have taken his Zephyrettas, Trypheruses, 
Nitellas, Misotheas, Vagarios, and Flirtillas. 

* In No, 141, he alludes to the fatigue of the Dictionary, 
which he was at that time compiling: " The rower in time 
reaches the port, the lexicographer at last finds the conclusion 
of his alphabet; " which, however, he did not find until three 
years after this date. 


His first attempt at characteristic familiar- 
ity, occurs in No. 12, in a letter from a young 
girl, who wants a place ; and, in my opinion, 
it is the most successful ; the style is seldom 
turgid, and it has a considerable portion of 
humour; a quality in which it is now acknow- 
ledged Dr. Johnson excelled, although one of 
his biographers seems to think he did not 
know it.* It was a considerable time before 
I was fully convinced that Dr. Johnson wrote 
this letter, so little appears of his usual man- 
ner : it attacks a species of cruelty which he 
could not often have witnessed; and when 
he came to revise the original Ramblers, he 
made fewer alterations in this, than in any 
other ; a delicacy which he always observed 
with regard to his correspondents. But the 
paper is undoubtedly his, and evinces an ac- 
curate observation of common life. 

With respect to humour, the following pa- 
pers may be enumerated, as pregnant proofs 
that he possessed that quality : No. 46, on 
the mischiefs of rural faction ; 51, on the 
employments of a housewife in the country ; 
59, Suspirus, or the human screech-owl, from 
which Dr. Goldsmith took his character of 
Croaker ; 61, a Londoner's visit to the coun- 
try ; 73, the lingering expectation of an heir; 
82, the virtuoso's account of his rarities ; 
101, a proper audience necessary to a wit; 
113, 115, history of Hymenoeus's courtship; 

* Murphy, p. 159. 


116, the young trader's attempt at polite- 
ness ; 117, the advantages of living in a gar- 
ret ; 119, Tranquilla's account of her lovers ; 
123, the young trader turned gentleman ; 138, 
the character of Mrs. Busy ; 141, the charac- 
ter of Papilius ; 157, the scholar's complaint 
of his own bashfulness ; 161, the revolutions 
of a garret ; 165, the impotence of wealth, 
the visit of Serotinus to the place of his na- 
tivity ; 177, an account of a club of antiqua- 
ries ; 192, love unsuccessful without riches ; 
197, 198, the history of a legacy-hunter ; 200, 
Asper's complaint of the insolence of Pros- 
pero ; and 206, the art of living at the cost 
of others. If these papers are not allowed 
to contain humour, if the characters are not 
drawn and the stories related with that qual- 
ity which forces a smile at the expense of 
absurdity, and delights the imagination by 
the juxtaposition of unexpected images and 
allusions, it will be ditlicult to say where 
genuine humour is to be found. If it has not 
the ease, and sometimes the good-nature of 
Addison, this is saying no more than that it 
is not Addison's humour : neither is it that 
of Swift or Arbuthnot. This does not take 
from its originality, nor weaken the influence 
it produces upon contempt, the passion to 
which humour more particularly addresses 
itself. It ought to be observed, also, that 
the greater part of the subjects enumerated 
above are new in the history of Essay-writ- 
ing ; and the few that were touched by for- 


mer writers, such as the vh*tuoso's rarities, 
recommend themselves to the fancy by new 
combinations and sportive jfictions. 

But the religious and moral tendency of 
The Rambler, is, after all, its principal excel- 
lence, and what entitles it to a higher praise 
than can be earned by the powers of wit, or 
of criticism. On subjects connected with 
the true interests of man, what our author 
has said of Goldsmith, may with, much more 
truth be applied to himself. Nullum quod 
tetig-it non ornavit. If we do not discover in 
his essays, the genius which invents, we have 
a wonderful display of those powers of mind 
which, second only to the genius of the poet, 
most happily illustrate, and almost instantly 
strike conviction. Whatever position Dr. 
Johnson lays down, is laid down with irre- 
sistible force ; it is not new, but we wonder 
that we have before heard it with indilfer- 
ence ; it is, perhaps, familiar, and yet we 
receive it with the welcome of a discovery. 
Whatever virtue he praises, receives dignity 
and strength ; and whatever vice he exposes, 
becomes more odious and coiitemptil^le. To 
select examples from a work so well known, 
would be superfluous ; yet, one paper, No. 
148, on parental cruelty, which has not gen- 
erally been pointed out by his critics, has ever 
appeared to me preeminent in every grace of 
moral expostulation. Men who have not seen 
much ol" life, and who believe cautiously of 
hum:in depravity, cannot think it possible 

v«;l. xvi. 4 


that such a paper should ever be read with- 
out improvement ; yet, without any very ex- 
tensive knowledge of what is daily passing 
in the world, we may be allowed to assert, 
with the author, that there are some on whom 
its persuasions may be lost. " He that can 
bear to give continual pain to those who sur- 
round him, and can walk with satisfaction 
in the gloom of his own presence ; he that 
can see submissive misery without relenting, 
and meet, without emotion, the eye that im- 
plores mercy, or demands justice, will scarcely 
be amended by remonstrance or admonition ; 
he has found means of stopping the avenues 
of tenderness, and arming his heart against 
the force of reason." 

Instances might be multiplied, in which 
common truths, and common maxims, are 
supported by an eloquence nowhere else to be 
found ; and in which the principles of human 
nature are explained with a facility and truth 
which could result only from what appears 
to have been the author's favourite study, the 
study of the heart. Yet this distinguishing 
characteristic of The Rambler, added to a 
style by no means familiar, may have rendered 
it a less agreeable companion to a very nu- 
merous class of readers than other works of 
the kind. It is certainly not a book for the 
uneducated part of the world, nor for those 
who, whatever their education, read only for 
their amusement. In the comparison of 
books with men, it may be said that The 


Rambler is one of those which are, at first, 
repulsive, but which grow upon us on a 
fui'ther acquaintance. Accordingly, those who 
have read it oftenest, are most sensible of its 
excellence : it will not please, at first sight, 
nor suit the gay, who wish to be amused, nor 
the superficial, who cannot command atten- 
tion. It is to be studied, as well a*s read ; 
and the few objections that have been made 
to it, would have probably been retracted, if 
the objectors had returned frequently to the 
work, and examined whether the author had 
preferred any claims which could not fairly be 
granted. It cannot be too often repeated 
that The Rambler is not a work to be hastily 
laid aside ; and that they, who, from the 
apparent difficulties of style and manner, 
have been led to study it attentively, have 
been amply rewarded by the discovery of 
new beauties ; and have been ready to con- 
fess, what it would be now extremely diffi- 
cult to disprove, that literature, as well as 
morals, owes the greatest obligations to this 
writer ; and that since the work became pop- 
ular, every thing in literature or morals, in 
history or dissertation, is better conceived, 
and better expressed, — conceived with more 
novelty, and expressed with greater energy. 

One objection, ind(;ed, remains to be con- 
sidered, which is common with the friends, as 
well as the enemies of this writer — the melan- 
choly picture he everywhere exliil)its of human 
existence. " He had penetration enough to 


see," says Mr. Boswell, " and seeing would 
not disguise the general misery of man in this 
state of being, and this may have given rise to 
the superficial notion of his being too stern a 
philosopher. But men of reflection will be 
sensible that he has given a true representa- 
tion of human existence, and that he has, at 
the sarrie time, with a generous benevolence, 
displayed every consolation which our state 
affords us, not only those arising from the 
hopes of futurity, but such as may be attained 
in the immediate progress through life." The 
latter part of this opinion may be conceded ; 
indeed, Dr. Johnson's most gloomy thoughts 
are so generally followed by consolation, that 
perhaps no great evil can arise from his dwel- 
ling so frequently on the melancholy side of 
human life ; yet, I am none of those " men 
of reflection" who think he has given " a true 
representation of human life." In writing the 
papers alluded to, it is evident he was describ- 
ing his own feelings and state, and that his 
resources were not the observation of what 
was passing around him, but that morbid 
melancholy which domineered over his body 
and mind, and dictated at this time, the reflec- 
tions which he was fond to indulge in soli- 
tude and silence, and often amidst poverty, 
and sickness, and neglect. That he was de- 
picting his own mind, must be obvious now, 
when the world knows so much of his history ; 
and that he was conscious his feelings might 
betray him into exaggeration, is evident from 


the conclusion of many of his papers, in which, 
by way of consolation, he almost refutes his 
former positions. Nay, he could sometimes 
laugh at his prevailing propensity. In No. 
109, in the character of a correspondent, he 
has, perhaps, said all that his enemies could 
wish to say on the subject : " Whether it be 
that continued sickness or misfortune, has 
acquainted you only with the bitterness of 
being ; or that you imagine none but yourself 
able to discover what I suppose has been seen 
and felt by all the inhabitants of the world ; 
whether you intend your writings as antido- 
tal to the levity and merriment with, which 
your rivals endeavour to attract the favour of 
the public ; or fancy that you have some par- 
ticular powers of dolorous declamation, and 
warble out your groans with uncommon ele- 
gance or energy ; it is certain that whatever 
be your subject, melancholy for the most part, 
bursts in upon your speculation, your gayety 
is quickly overcast, and though your readers 
may be flattered with hopes of pleasantry, 
they are seldom dismissed but with heavy 
hearts. That I may, therefore, gratify you 
with an imitation of your own syllables of 
sadness, I will inform you," &c. Thus hu- 
morously could he play with his own failing, 
in more happy and social intervals. 

These gloomy representations appear to 
have arisen })artly from his not having distin- 
guished between the avoidable and unavoid- 
able miseries of life; if these are combined, 


our state will appear wretched indeed, and 
we " sorrow as those who have no hope ;" if, 
to the dispensations of Providence, we add 
the crimes and folUes of mankind, we place 
ourselves in a situation in which there is no 
remedy, and from which there is no escape. 
Another reason for his frequent unfavourable 
opinions of existence may perhaps be traced 
to his not entertaining very clear views of 
revealed religion. Yet, even when somewhat 
of this darkness and distrust is visible, he 
seems to shrink from it, and to recommend to 
his readers, and to repose himself in the con- 
solations of Faith and Hope, to pray for good. 

But leave to Heaven the measure and the ehoice. 

Sentiments like these, form the conclusion 
of his most unfavourable reflections on " the 
bitterness of being," such is the difference 
between feeling and thinking, and act as an 
antidote to any supposed mischief that can 
arise from following his gloomy train of 
thought ; while, on the other hand, his reflec- 
tions may be considered as beneficial in pro- 
portion to their tendency to anticipate the 
disappointments of persons of sanguine tem- 
pers and credulous affections. 

From his private history, his opinions may 
now be gathered without disguise ; and will 
appear to be, as already observed, frequently 
dictated by a mind ill at ease, conflicting with 
a body of distemper, for which no relief could 
be found, yet occasionally cheered by pros- 


porous events, and always susceptible of the 
pleasures of social life. His complaints were 
those of the individual, rather than of the 
species. Had he seen all around him as un- 
happy as himself, he would not so frequently 
have fled into company as a relief for his pri- 
vate anxieties. There was this singularity, 
indeed, in his dislike of life, that it never 
drove him into retirement, which he wrote 
and inveiofhed aorainst with vehemence. And 
although he indulged melancholy views of 
existence, for which he was conscious an 
apology might be found in his unhappy con- 
stitution of body, he would check a similar 
disposition in others, when he had reason to 
suspect that its source was affectation and not 
suffering. This habit, which some men con- 
tract as they contract other affected ha])its, to 
draw attention, he, on one occasion, calls " a 
hypocrisy of misery." 

Of Dr. Johnson's life and character more 
is known than ever was known of any man. 
INIr. Boswell has exhibited a more ffnished 
picture than the utmost ardour of curiosity 
could have hoped. This ingenious biographer 
has proved, contrary to the common opinion, 
and by means which will not soon be repeat- 
ed, that the life of a mere scholar may be ren- 
dered more instructive, more entertaining, and 
more interesting, than that of any other iunnan 
being. And ah hough the "conlidcnc*' of pri- 
vate conversation" has been thouglit to be 
sometimes violated in this work, for w hich no 


apology is here intended, yet the world seems 
agreed to forgive this failing in consideration 
of the pleasure it has afforded ; that wonder- 
ful variety of subjects, of wit, sentiment, and 
anecdote, with which it abounds ; and above 
all, the valuable instruction it presents on 
many of the most important duties of life. It 
must be allowed that it created some enemies 
to Dr. Johnson, among those who were not 
enemies before this disclosure of his senti- 
ments. Vanity has been sometimes hurt, and 
vanity has taken its usual revenge. It is 
generally agi'eed, however, that Mr. Boswell's 
account of his illustrious friend is impartial : 
he conceals no failing that revenge or ani- 
mosity has since been able to discover; aU 
his foibles of manner and conversation are 
faithfully recorded, and recorded so frequently 
that it is easier for a stranger to form a j ust 
estimate of Dr. Johnson than of any emi- 
nent character in the whole range of bio- 

To some, and particularly to the wits, Mr. 
Boswell's minuteness has afforded a topic of 
ridicule, and this ridicule may be indulged 
without any injury to the great object of the 
work. The world would not have sunk in 
darkness, if it had not been told how Dr. 
Johnson pared his nails, and scraped the joints 
of his fingers — what he paid for an ounce of 
vitriol; in what estimation he held Bologna 
sausages ; or what he did with squeezed 
oran£:es. Some of Mr. Boswell's illustrations 


may have likewise provoked a smiie; and the 
following was probably never read without 
one : — 

" Talking of shaving the other night, at Dr. 
Taylor's, Dr. Johnson said : ' Sk, of a thou- 
sand shavers, two do not shave so much alike 
as not to be distinguished.' I (Mr. Boswell) 
thought this not possible, till he specified so 
many of the varieties in shaving : holding 
the razor more or less perpendicular ; draw- 
ing long or short strokes ; beginning at the 
upper part of the face, or the under ; at the 
right side or the left side. Lideed, when one 
considers what variety of sounds can be utter- 
ed by the ivindpipe^ in the compass of a very 
small aperture, ive may be convinced how many 
degrees of ditierence there may be in the ap- 
plication of a razor ! " Never, surely, was 
there a more ludicrous combination. What 
could have been passing in the mind of this 
lively writer when he seriously brought the 
skill of a shaver, or " a thousand shavers," into 
comparison with that mysterious work of na- 
ture, the human voice ? But these harmless 
foibles may be pardoned in one who at an 
early age had the sense and virtue to attach 
himself to such a man as Dr. Johnson, and to 
collect his colloquial wit and wisdom, with a 
foresight that they would one day be read 
with as nmch avidity as they were accumu- 
lated ; and that the most distinguished char- 
^ acters of the age would be happy to con- 
tribute to this monument in honour of one 


whom they esteemed " the brightest ornament 
of the eighteenth century."* 

The failing in Dr. Johnson's character, 
which has been held iip by his enemies in the 
strongest light, was the roughness of his tem- 
per. But this has been the favourite topic of 
objection and reproach chiefly with those who 
did not know, or were unwilling to confess, 
that it was more than balanced by a gentle- 
ness and tenderness of heart, by a most friendly 
disposition, and by a love of society and so- 
cial habits, such as seldom are combined in 
the same character. For his occasional rude- 
nesses many excuses may be ofl'ered ; Mi*. 
Boswell's candour has not suffered him to 
conceal the hest^ when he says that he was too 
easily provoked by " absurdity and folly." 
Much of his peevishness evidently arose from 
the ill-timed and ridiculous questions put to 
him by some of his visitors. They considered 
him as a man who was never to sit silent, 
never to give place to the conversation of oth- 
ers, but to be perpetually interrogated about 
every thing and by everybody, that every- 
body might go away and report in their circle 
what they said to Johnson, and what John- 
son said to them. Whether well or ill, mel- 
ancholy or cheerful, he was thus perpetually 
goaded and pricked, perpetually dragged into 
opinions which were sometimes inconsistent, 
and forced to make replies which were some- 

■* Mr. Malone's Preface to his Edition of Shalcspeare. 


times rude and angry. When these cases oc- 
cur, and many of them are very obvious in 
Mr. Boswell's work, they may surely " be pas- 
sed over as the involuntary blows of a man 
agitated by the spasms of a convulsion." * 
For although, when deprived of patience by 
teasing impertinence, his learning only con- 
ferred " that superiority which swells the heart 
of the lion in the desert, where he roars with- 
out reply, and ravages without resistance," f 
yet when treated ^vith the respect due to him, 
and in the company where respect was recip- 
rocal, a "little child might lead him." 

So many instances are given of the warmth 
of his friendship, and the tenderness of his 
heart, that it would be difficult to produce the 
name of a man who possessed these virtues, 
but especially the last, in higher perfection. 
It is well known that he gave a fourth part, at 
least, of his income in charity, and his charity 
was of no common kind. It was such as we 
may say, without hazard of contradiction, 
few philanthropists would have courage or 
patience to imitate. Not content with be- 
stowing his alms on the casual poor, he col- 
lected objects from the distressed of his ac- 
quaintance, received them into his house, as 
soon as he was rich enough to be master of 
a house, and gave them that shelter and as- 
sistance which scarcely any man thinks him- 
self obliged to give, unless to those who are 

* Rambler, No. 11. f Rambler, No 72. 


connected by the nearer ties of blood. Dr. John- 
son had no choice in the selection of the ob- 
jects of this domestic charity, but their suffer- 
ings ; to be poor and needy was sufficient 
recommendation ; and to be peevish, discon- 
tented, and ungrateful, was neither a bar to 
their reception, nor a plea for dismissing them. 
He literally fed and supported a set of objects 
who were torments to him by their evil and 
unthankful tempers ; who sometimes drove 
him from his home to seek relief in company, 
and always made it, in a certain degree, un- 
comfortable. Yet this never stinted the meas- 
ure of his kindness ; in answer to any sugges- 
tions that might be offered by his friends on 
this subject, he had a ready answer, honour- 
able to his head and heart : " If I dismiss 
them, who will take them in ? " Out of the 
many instances upon record of this rigorous 
charity, the following may be selected as an 
eminent, and almost matchless, proof of ten- 
derness of heart, and of the unwearied desire 
he had to administer those comforts to others 
which he frequently wanted himself. It is 
related by him in a private letter : " Mrs. 
Williams is in the country to try if she can 
improve her health ; she is very ill. Matters 
have come so about, that she is in the coun- 
try with very good accommodation ; but age. 
and sickness, and pride, have made her so 
peevish, that I was forced to bribe the maid 
to stay with her, by a secret stipulation of 
half a crown a week over her wages." 


Such was the man whom some have re- 
viled for his rudeness and his petulance, and, 
by repeating a single anecdote to his disad- 
vantage, have multiplied it in imagination to 
a thousand ; and have concluded, contrary to 
all evidence, that his whole conversation was 
repulsive, and his whole conduct unsocial. 
Yet, during his long life, no man's company 
was more courted by persons distinguished 
for genius or rank ; and those who knew him 
most intimately held him in the highest ven- 
eration. Such respect, paid by all who were 
admitted into his society, must have had a solid 
foundation ; and, without the knowledge we 
have now acquired of him, we must have 
looked upon that man as elevated beyond the 
common order, who could procure such es- 
teem, and preserve such attachments. And 
elevated he certainly was, by morals, genius, 
and wisdom. With all his defects, not a sin- 
gle vice has been imputed to him ; while he 
is allowed to have possessed every virtue in 
principle, and, as far as his limited means 
permitted, to have excelled in the practice. 
Every man who knew him was made wiser 
and better by the association ; nor will it ever 
be forgotten that, in his presence, neither 
wealtli nor rank could protect those who 
dared to utter the lansfuac^e of irreliij^ion or 

His conversation abounded in information; 
on every topic of tlie most trillini^ kind he 
threw a new light ; and many who tliought 


they had settled thek opinions, were surprised 
when, by some unexpected illustration, he 
proved that they had overlooked the point on 
which, the whole depended. By a habit he 
appears to have early acquired of considering 
a question in every possible view, he was 
sometimes ready to take either side, and for 
the sake of contest or information, to argue 
contrary to his real opinion. This gave to 
conversation the spur and variety in which he 
delighted, but never was allowed to interfere 
with his perceptive duties ; when he wrote for 
the public, he supported religion and morality 
upon their genuine principles, and delivered 
the sentiments which he honestly believed 
were the best calculated to promote the inte- 
rests of truth and virtue. Indeed, few men 
have more strictly adhered to truth on every 
occasion. His reverence for it was such that 
he never lost sight of its obligations in the 
most minute occurrences, and did not scruple 
to check the lax vivacity of his intimate 
friends, and those to whom he was most in- 

It is, however, far from our intention to 
exhibit him as a perfect character. Such 
praise is foolishly given to man in this state 
of being ; nor is it necessary to attribute 
more to him than he claimed for himself. 
Compared to men in general, with regard to 
literary accomplishments, he was entitled to 
a just superiority, and he was conscious of 


it ; and what man has ever excelled without 
being conscious of it ? But it is hoped none 
will look upon him with less reverence, when 
they behold him as a fallible and peccant 
being, as a dependent creature entreating 
Heaven for grace and support ; humble and 
lowly ; full of acknowledgments of defects and 
weaknesses ; penitent and sorrowful for his 
many infirmities ; thankful for the mercies he 
had received ; earnest in employing the means 
of grace ; and fervently anxious for the hopes 
of glory. His " Prayers and Meditations " 
thus exhi])it his mind continually struggling 
with imperfections, and continually suppli- 
cating for help where only it can be found ; 
lamenting the loss of time, and undervaluing 
what he had done, like Grotius, who, at the 
close of life, exclaimed, Heu ! vitam perdidi, 
operose nihil ai^endo. 

But the world has agreed to think more 
highly of the public services of Dr. Johnson, 
and to rank him among the most illustrious 
writers of any age or nation, and among the 
benefactors to religion, virtue, and learning. 
Nor can these desultory thoughts on his char- 
acter be concluded in more appropriate terms 
than the pathetic tribute paid by an eminent 
friend * on the occasion of his death : " He 

* Boswell's Life, vol. iii. p. 700. Mr. Roswell lias not <i;iven 
the name of this eminent friend. Mr. liurke was suspected by 
me; but I learn since that it was William Gerrard ilamilton, 
usually called Single-speech Ilamilton. 


has made a chasm, which not only nothing 
can fill up, but which nothing has a tendency 
to fill up. Johnson is dead. Let us go to 
the next best : There is nobody ; no man can 
be said to put you in mind of Johnson." 


No. 1. TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 1749-50. 

Cur tamen hoc libeat pothis decurrere campo, 
Pti' qutin maipius eqtios Aurumce Jlexit alumnus, 
Si vacat, et placidi rationem admittitis, edam. 

juv. SAT. i. 19. * 

Why to expatiate in this beaten field, 

Wliy arms oft used in vain I mean to wield; 

If time permit, and candour will attend, 

Some satisfaction this essay may lend. elpiiinston. 

Thp: difficulty of the first address on any new oc- 
casion, is felt by every man in his transactions with 
the world, and confessed by the settled and regular 
forms of salutation which necessity has introduced 
into all languages. Judgment was wearied with the 
perplexity of being forced upon choice, where there 
was no motive to preference, and it was found con- 
venient that some •easy method of introduction 
should be established, which, if it wanted the al- 
lun-ment of novelty, might enjoy the security of 

Perhaps few authors have presented themselves 
before the [)ublic, without wishing that such cere- 
monial modes of entrance had been anciently estab- 
lished, as might have freed them from those dangers 

VOL. XVI. 5 

66 RAMBLER. NO. 1. 

which the desire of pleasing is certain to produce, 
and precluded the vain expedients of softening 
censure by apologies, or rousing attention by ab- 

The epic writers have found the proemial part of 
the poem such an addition to their undertaking, that 
they have almost unanimously adopted the first lines 
of Homer, and the reader needs only be informed 
of the subject, to know in what manner the poem 
will begin. 

But this solemn repetition is hitherto the peculiar 
distinction of heroic poetry ; it has never been le- 
gally extended to the lower orders of literature, but 
seems to be considered as an hereditary privilege, 
to be enjoyed only by those who claim it from their 
alliance to the genius of Homer. 

The rules which the injudicious use of this prero- 
gative suggested to Horace, may, indeed, be applied 
to the direction of candidates for inferior fame ; it 
may be proper for all to remember, that they ought 
not to raise expectation which it is not in their 
power to satisfy, and that it is more pleasing to see 
smoke brightening into flame, than flame sinking 
into smoke. 

This precept has been long received, both from 
regard to the authority of Horace, and its conformity 
to the general opinion of the world ; yet there have 
been always some, that thought it no deviation from 
modesty to recommend their ^wn labours, and ima- 
gined themselves entitled by indisputable merit to 
an exemption from general restraints, and to eleva- 
tions not allowed in common life. They, perhaps, 
believed, that when, like Thucydides, they be- 
queathed to mankind uTtJiia eg ael, ' an estate forever,' 
it was an additional favour to inform them of its 

KO. 1. RAMBLER. 67 

It may, indeed, be no less dangerous to claim, on 
certain occasions, too little than too much. There 
is something captivating in spirit and intrepidity, to 
which we often yield, as to a resistless power ; nor 
can he reasonably expect the confidence of others, 
who too apparently distrusts himself 

Plutarch, in his enumeration of the various occa- 
sions on which a man may, without just offence, pro- 
claim his own excellences, has omitted the case of 
an author entering the world ; unless it may be com- 
prehended under his general position, that a man 
may lawfully praise himself for those qualities which 
cannot be known but from his own mouth ; as when 
he is among strangers, and can have no opportunity 
of an actual exertion of his powers. That the case 
of an author is parallel will scarcely be granted, be- 
cause he necessarily discovers the degree of his 
merit to his judges, when he appears at his trial. 
But it should be remembered, that unless his judges 
are inclined to favour him, they will hardly be per- 
siuided to hear tiie cause. 

In love, the state which fills the heart with a de- 
gree of solicitude next that of an author, it has been 
held a maxim, that success is most easily obtained 
by indirect and unperceived approaches ; he who too 
soon professes himself a lover, raises obstacles to 
his own wishes, and those whom disappointments 
have taught experience, endeavour to conceal their 
passion till they believe their mistress wishes for the 
discovery. The same method, if it were practicable 
to writers, would save many complaints of the se- 
verity of the age, and the caprices of criticism. If 
a man could glide imperceptibly into the favour of 
the public, and only proclaim his pretensions to 
literary honours when he is sure of not being re- 
jected, he might commence author with better hopes, 

68 RAMBLER. NO. 1. 

as his failings might escape contempt though he 
shall never attain much regard. 

But since the world supposes every man that 
writes ambitious of applause, as some ladies have 
taught themselves to believe that every man intends 
love, who expresses civility, the miscarriage of any 
endeavour in learning raises an unbounded contempt, 
indulged by most minds without scruple, as an 
honest triumph over unjust claims and exorbitant 
expectations. The artifices of those who put them- 
selves in this hazardous state, have, therefore, been 
multiplied in proportion to their fear as well as their 
ambition ; and are to be looked upon with more in- 
dulgence, as they are incited at once by the two 
great movers of the human mind, the desire of good, 
and the fear of evil. For who can wonder that, 
allured on one side, and frightened on the other, 
some should endeavour to gain favour by bribing 
the judge with an appearance of respect which they 
do not feel, to excite compassion by confessing weak- 
ness of which they are not convinced, and others to 
attract regard by a show of openness and magnani- 
mity, by a daring profession of their own deserts, 
and a public challenge of honours and rewards ? 

The ostentatious and haughty display of them- 
selves has been the usual refuge of diurnal writers, 
in vindication of whose practice it may be said, that 
what it wants in prudence is supplied by sincerity, 
and who at least may plead, that if their boasts de- 
ceive any into the perusal of their performances, 
they defraud them of but little time : — 

— Quid enim ? Concurritur : horce 
Momento ciia mors venit, aut victoria Iceta. 

HOR. SAT. i. 1. 7. 

The battle join, and, in a moment's flight, 

Death, or a joyful conquest, ends the fight. francis. 

NO. 1. RAMBLER. 69 

The question concerning the merit of the day is 
soon decided, and we are not condemned to toil 
through half a folio, to be convinced that the writer 
has broke his promise. 

It is one among many reasons for which I pur- 
pose to endeavour the entertainment of my country- 
men by a short essay on Tuesday and Saturday, 
that I liope not much to tire those whom I shall not 
happen to please ; and if I am not commended for 
the beauty of my works, to be at least pardoned for 
their brevity. But whether my expectations are 
most fixed on pardon or praise, I think it not neces- 
sary to discover; for having accurately weighed the 
reasons for arrogance and submission, I find them 
so nearly equiponderant, that my impatience to try 
the event of my first performance will not suffer 
me to attend my longer the trepidations of the 

There are, indeed, many inconveniencies almost 
peculiar to this method of publication, which may 
naturally flatter the author, whether he be confident 
or timorous. The man to whom the extent of his 
knowledge, or the sprightliness of his imagination, 
has, in his own opinion, already secured the praises 
of the world, willingly takes that way of displaying 
his abilities which will soonest give him an opportu- 
nity of hearing the voice of fame ; it heightens his 
alacrity to think in how mapy places he shall hear 
of what he is now writing, read with ecstasies to- 
morrow. He will often please himself with reflect- 
ing, that the author of a large treatise must proceed 
with anxiety, lest, before the completion of his work, 
the attention of the public may have changed its 
object ; but that he who is confined to no single 
topic, may follow the natiojial taste through all its 

70 RAMBLER. NO. 1. 

variations, and catch the aura pojniJaris, the gale 
of favour, from what point soever it shall blow. 

Nor is the prospect less likely to ease the doubts 
of the cautious, and the terrors of the fearful ; for to 
such the shortness of every single paper is a power- 
ful encouragement. He that questions his abilities 
to arrange the dissimilar parts of an extensive plan, 
or fears to be lost in a complicated system, may yet 
hope to adjust a few j)ages without perplexity; and 
if, when he turns over the repositories of his mem- 
ory, he finds his collection too small for a volume, 
he may yet have enough to furnish out an essay. 
He that would fear to lay out too much time upon 
an experiment of which he knows not the event, 
persuades himself that a few days will show him 
what he is to expect from his learning and his 
genius. If he thinks his own judgment not suffi- 
ciently enlightened, he may, by attending the re- 
marks which every paper will produce, rectify his 
opinions. If he should, with too little premeditation, 
incumber himself by an unwieldy subject, he can 
quit it without confessing his ignorance, and pass to 
other topics less dangerous, or more tractable. And 
if he finds, with all his industry, and all his artifices, 
that he cannot deserve regard, or cannot attain it, 
he may let the design fall at once, and, without in- 
jury to others or himself, retire to amusements of 
greater pleasure, or to studies of better prospect. 

NO. 2. RAMBLER. 71 

No. 2. SATURDAY, MARCH 24, 1749-50. 

Stare loco nescit, pereunt vestigia mille 

Ante fugam, absentemque J'erit gi'avis ungula canipum. 


Til' impatient courser pants in every vein, 

And pawing seems to beat the distant plain; 

Hills, vales, and floods, appear already crost, 

And, ere he starts, a thousand steps are lost. pope. 

That the mind of man is never satisfied with the 
objects immediately before it, but is always breaking 
away from the present moment, and losing itself in 
schemes of future felicity ; and that we forget the 
proper use of the time, now in our power, to provide 
for the enjoyment of that which, perhaps, may never 
be granted us, has been frequently remarked ; and 
as this practice is a commodious subject of raillery 
to the gay, and of declamation to the serious, it has 
been ridiculed, with all the pleasantry of wit, and 
exaggerated with all the amplifications of rhetoric. 
Every instance, by which its absurdity might ai)pear 
most flagrant, has been studiously collected ; it has 
been marked with every epithet of contempt, and 
all the tropes and figures have been called forth 
against it. 

Censure is willingly indulged, because it always 
implies some superiority : men ])lease themselves 
with imagining that they have made a deeper search, 
or wider survey, than others, and detected faults 
and follies, which escape vulgar observation: And 
the pleasure of wantoning in common to[)ics is so 

72 RAMBLER. NO. 2. 

tempting to a writer, that he cannot easily resign 
it ; a train of sentiments generally received enables 
him to shine without labour, and to conquer without 
a contest. It is so easy to laugh at the folly of him 
who lives only in idea, refuses immediate ease for 
distant pleasures, and, instead of enjoying the bless- 
ings of life, lets life glide away in preparations to 
enjoy them ; it affords such opportunities of trium- 
phant exultation, to exemplify the uncertainty of the 
human state, to rouse mortals from their dream, 
and inform them of the silent celerity of time, that 
w^e may believe authors willing rather to transmit 
than examine so advantageous a principle, and 
more inclined to pursue a tract so smooth and so 
flowery, than attentively to consider whether it leads 
to truth. 

This quality of looking forward into futurity seems 
the unavoidable condition of a being, whose motions 
are gradual, and whose life is progressive : as his 
powers are limited, he must use means for the at- 
tainment of his ends, and intend first what he per- 
forms last ; as by continual advances from his first 
stage of existence, he is perpetually varying the 
horizon of his prospects, he must always discover 
new motives of action, new excitements of fear, and 
allurements of desire. 

The end, therefore, which at present calls forth 
our efforts, will be found, when it is once gained, to 
be only one of the means to some remoter end. The 
natural flights of the human mind are not from 
pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope. 

He that directs his steps to a certain point, must 
frequently turn his eyes to that place which he 
strives to reach ; he that undergoes the fatigue of 
labour, must solace his weariness with the contem- 
plation of its reward. In agriculture, one of the 

NO. 2. RAMBLER. 73 

most simple and necessary employments, no niau 
turns up the ground but because he thinks of tiie 
liarvest, that harvest which blights may intercept, 
which inundations may sweep away, or which death 
or calamity may hinder him from reaping. 

Yet, as few maxims are widely received or long 
retained but for some conformity with truth and na- 
ture, it must be confessed, that this caution against 
keeping our view too intent upon remote advantages 
is not without its propriety or usefulness, though it 
may have been recited with too much levity, or en- 
forced with too little distinction ; for, not to speak of 
that vehemence of desire which presses through right 
and wrong to its gratification, or that anxious in- 
quietude which is justly chargeable with distrust of 
Heaven, subjects too solemn for ray present pur- 
pose ; it frequently happens that, by indulging early 
the raptures of success, we forget the measures ne- 
cessary to secure it, and suffer the imagination to 
riot in the fruition of some possible good, till the 
time of obtaining it has slipped away. 

There would, however, be few enterprises of great 
labour or hazard undertaken, if we had not the power 
of magnifying the advantages which we persuade 
ourselves to expect from them. When the knight 
of La Mancha gravely recounts to his com{)anioa 
the adventures by which he is to signalize himself 
in such a manner that he shall be summoned to the 
support of empires, solicited to accept the heiress of 
the crown which he has preserved, have honours 
and riches to scatter about him, and an island to 
bestow on his worthy squire,- very few readers, 
amidst their mirth or pity, can deny that they have 
admitted visions of the same kind; though they 
have not, jjcrhaps, expected events e(|ually strange, 
or by means e<[ually inadequate. AVhen we pity 

74 RAMBLER. NO. 2. 

him, we reflect on our own disappointments ; and 
when we laugh, our hearts inform us that he is not 
more ridiculous than ourselves, except that he tells 
what we have only thought. 

The understanding of a man naturally sanguine, 
may, indeed, be easily vitiated by the luxurious in- 
dulgence of hope, however necessary to the produc- 
tion of every thing great or excellent, as some plants 
are destroyed by too open exposure to that sun 
which gives life and beauty to the vegetable world. 

Perhaps no class of the human species requires 
more to be cautioned against this anticipation of 
happiness, than those that aspire to the name of 
authors. A man of lively fancy no sooner finds a 
hint moving in his mind, than he makes momen- 
taneous excursions to the press, and to the world, 
and, with a little encouragement from flattery, pushes 
forward into future ages, and prognosticates the 
honours to be paid him, when envy is extinct, and 
faction forgotten, and those, whom partiality now 
suffers to obscure him, shall have given way to the 
triflers of as short duration as themselves. 

Those, who have proceeded so far as to appeal to 
the tribunal of succeeding times, are not likely to 
be cured of their infatuation ; but all endeavours 
ought to be used for the prevention of a disease, for 
which, when it has attained its height, perhaps no 
remedy will be foiind in the gardens of philosophy, 
however she may boast her physic of the mind, her 
cathartics of vice, or lenitives of passion. 

I shall, therefore, while I am yet but lightly 
touched with the symptoms of the writer's malady, 
endeavour to fortify myself against the infection, not 
without some weak hope, that my preservatives may 
extend their virtue to others, whose employment ex- 
poses them to the same danger : — 

NO. 2. RAMBLER. 70 

Laudis amove fumes f Sunt ceria piacula, quce te 
Tev pure kcto poterunt recreare libello. 

IIOR. EPIST. i. 1. 30. 

Is fame your passion ? Wisdom's powerful chann, 

If thrice read over, shall its force disarm, fkancis. 

It is the sage advice of Epictetus, that a man 
should accustom himself often to think of what is 
most shocking and terrible, that by such reflections 
he may be preserved from too ardent wishes for 
seeming good, and from too much dejection in real 

There is nothing more dreadful to an author than 
neglect, compared with which re[)roach, hatred, and 
opposition, are names of happiness ; yet this worst, 
this meanest fate, every one who dares to write has 
reason to fear. 

I nunc, et versus tecum meditare canoros. 

HOR. EPIST. ii. 2. 76. 

Go now, and meditate thy tuneful lays. 


It may not be unfit for him who makes a new en- 
trance into the lettered world, so far to suspect his 
own powers, as to believe that he possibly may de- 
serve neglect ; that nature may not have qualified 
him much to enlarjTe or embellish knowledjjje, nor 
sent iiim forth entitled by indisputable superiority to 
regulate the conduct of the rest of mankind ; that, 
though the world must be granted to be yet in 
ignorance, he is not destined to dispel the cloud, 
nor to shine out as one of the luminaries of life. 
For this suspicion, every catalogue of a library will 
furnish sufficient reason ; as he will find it crowded 
with names of men, who, though now forgotten, were 
once no less enterprising or conlideiit than himself. 

76 RAMBLER. NO. 2. 

equally pleased with their own productions, equally 
caressed by their patrons, and flattered by their 

But, though it should happen that an author is 
capable of excelling, yet his merit may pass with- 
out notice, huddled In the variety of things, and 
thrown Into the general miscellany of life. He that 
endeavours after fame by writing, solicits the regard 
of a multitude fluctuating In pleasures, or Immersed 
in business, without time for Intellectual amuse- 
ments : he appeals to judges prepossessed by pas- 
sions, or corrupted by prejudices, which preclude 
their approbation of any new performance. Some 
are too Indolent to read any thing, till its reputation 
is established : others too envious to promote that 
fame which gives them pain by Its Increase. What 
is new Is opposed, because most are unwilling to be 
taught : and what is known is rejected, because it 
is not sufficiently considered, that men more fre- 
quently require to be reminded than Informed. The 
learned are afraid to declare their opinion early, lest 
they should put their reputation in hazard ; the 
ignorant always imagine themselves giving some 
proof of delicacy, when they refuse to be pleased : 
and he that finds his way to reputation through all 
these obstructions, must acknowledge that he is in- 
debted to other causes besides his industry, his 
learning, or his wit. 

NO. 3. RAMBLER. < i 

No. 3. TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 1750. 

Vii'tus, repulsce nescia soi'dklce, 
InUiininatis Jidytt honuribus, 
Nee stimit aid ponit secures 
Arbitrio 2Xipularis aurce. HOR. CAR. iii. 2. 17. 

Undisappolnted in designs, 

With native honours virtue shines; 

Nor takes up power, nor lays it down, 

As giddy rabbles smile or frown. elpiiinston. 

The task of an author is, either to teach what is 
not known, or to recommend known truths by his 
manner of adorning them ; either to let new hght in 
upon the mind, and open new scenes to the prospect, 
or to vary the dress and situation of common objects, 
so as to give them fresh grace and more powerful 
attractions ; to spread such flowers over the regions 
through which the intellect has already made its 
jjrogress, as may tempt it to return, and take a 
second view of things hastily passed over, or negli- 
gently regarded. 

Either of these labours is very difficult, because, 
that they may not be fruitless, men must not only 
be persuaded of their errors, but reconciled to their 
guide ; they must not only confess their ignorance, 
but, what is still less pleasing, must allow that he 
from whom they are to learn is more knowing than 

It might be imagined that such an em])loyment 
was in il.^elf sulliciently irksome and hazardous ; that 
none would be found so malevolent as wantonly to 

78 RAMBLER. NO. 3. 

add weight to the stone of Sisyphus ; and that few 
endeavours would be used to obstruct those advances 
to reputation, which must be made at such an ex- 
pense of time and thought, with so great hazard in 
the miscarriage, and with so little advantage from 
the success. 

Yet there is a certain race of men, that either 
imagine it their duty, or make it their amusement, 
to hinder the reception of every work of learning or 
genius, who stand as sentinels in the avenues of 
fame, and value themselves upon giving Ignorance 
and Envy the first notice of a prey. 

To these men, who distinguish themselves by the 
appellation of Critics, it is necessary for a new au- 
thor to find some means of recommendation. It is 
probable, that the most malignant of these persecu- 
tors might be somewhat softened, and prevailed on, 
for a short time, to remit their fury. Having for 
this purpose considered many expedients, I find in 
the records of ancient times, that Argus was lulled 
by music, and Cerberus quieted with a sop ; and am, 
therefore, inclined to believe that modern critics, 
who, if they have not the eyes, have the watchful- 
ness of Argus, and can bark as loud as Cerberus, 
though, perhaps, they cannot bite with equal force, 
might be subdued by methods of the same kind. I 
have heard how some have been pacified with claret 
and a supper, and others laid asleep with the soft 
notes of flattery. 

Though the nature of my undertaking gives me a 
sufficient reason to dread the united attacks of this 
virulent generation, yet I have not hitherto per- 
suaded myself to take any measures for flight or 
treaty. For I am in doubt whether they can act 
against me by lawful authority, and suspect that 
they have presumed upon a forged commission, 

NO. 3. • RAMBLER. 79 

Styled themselves the ministers of Criticism, with- 
out any authentic evidence of delegation, and utter- 
ed their own determinations as the decrees of a 
higher judicature. 

Criticism, from whom they derive their claim to 
decide the fate of writers, was the eldest daughter 
of Labour and of Truth: she was at her birth com- 
mitted to the care of Justice, and brought up by her 
in the palace of Wisdom. Being soon distinguished 
by the celestials, for her uncommon qualities, she 
was appointed the governess of Fancy, and em- 
powered to beat time to the chorus of the Muses, 
when they sung before the throne of Jupiter. 

When the Muses condescended to visit this lower 
world, they came accompanied by Criticism, to 
whom, upon her descent from her native regions, 
Justice gave a sceptre, to be carried aloft in her 
right hand, one end of which was tinctured with am- 
brosia, and in wreathed with a golden foliage of ama- 
ranths and bays ; the other end was encircled with 
cypress and pop[)ies, and dipped in the waters of 
oblivion. In her left hand she bore an unextinguish- 
able torch, manufactured by Labour, and lighted by 
Truth, of which it was the particular quality imme- 
diately to show every thing in its true form, 
however it might be disguised to common eyes. 
Whatever Art could comphcate, or Folly could 
confound, was, upon the tirst gleam of the torch of 
Truth, exhibited in its distinct parts and original 
simplicity; it darted through the labyrinths of soph- 
istry, and showed at once all the absurdities to which 
they served for refuge ; it pierced through the rol>es, 
which rlietoric often sold to falsehood, and detected 
the disj)roportion of i)arts, which artilicial veils had 
been contrived to cover. 

Thus furnished lor the execution of her office, 

80 RAMBLER. NO. 3. 

Criticism came down to survey the performances 
of those who professed themselves the votaries of 
the Muses. Whatever was brought before her, she 
beheld by the~ steady light of the torch of Truth, and 
when her examination had convinced her that the 
laws of just writing had been observed, she touched 
it with the amaranthine end of the sceptre, and con- 
signed it over to immortality. 

But it more frequently happened, that in the 
works, which required her inspection, there was 
some imposture attempted ; that false colours were 
laboriously laid ; that some secret inequality was 
found between the words and sentiments, or some 
dissimilitude of the ideas and the original objects ; 
that incongruities were linked together, or that some 
parts were of no use but to enlarge the appearance 
of the whole, without contributing to its beauty, solid- 
ity, or usefulness. 

Whenever such discoveries were made, and they 
were made whenever these faults were committed. 
Criticism refused the touch which conferred the 
sanction of immortality, and, when the errors were 
frequent and gross, reversed the sceptre, and let 
drops of lethe distil from the poppies and cypress, a 
fatal mildew, which immediately began to waste the 
work away, till it was at last totally destroyed. 

There were some compositions brought to the 
test, in which, when the strongest light was thrown 
upon them, their beauties and faults appeared so 
equally mingled, that Criticism stood with her sceptre 
poised in her hand, in doubt whether to shed lethe, 
or ambrosia, upon them. These at last increased to 
so great a number, that she was weary of attending 
such doubtful claims, and, for fear of using improp- 
erly the sceptre of Justice, referred the cause to 
be considered by Time. 

NO. 3. RAMBLER. 81 

The proceedings of Time, though very dilatory, 
were, some few caprices excepted, conformable to 
justice : and many who thought themselves secure 
by a short forbearance, have sunk under his scythe, 
as they were posting down with their volumes in 
triumph to futurity. It was observable that some 
were destroyed by little and little, and others crush- 
ed forever by a single blow. 

Criticism having long kept her eye fixed steadily 
upon Time, was at last so well satisfied with his 
conduct, that she withdrew from the earth with her 
patroness Astrea, and left Prejudice and False 
Taste to ravaore at laro;e as the associates of Fraud 
and Mischief; contenting herself thenceforth to shed 
her influence from afar upon some select minds, 
fitted for its reception by learning and by virtue. 

Before her departure she broke her sceptre, of 
which the shivers, that formed the ambrosial end, 
were caught up by Flattery, and those that had 
been infected with the waters of lethe were, with 
equal haste, seized by Malevolence. The followers 
of Flattery, to whom she distributed her part of the 
sceptre, neither had nor desired light, but touched 
indiscriminately whatever Power or Interest hap- 
pened to exhibit. The companions of Malevolence 
were supplied by the Furies with a torch, which had 
this quality peculiar to infernal lustre, that its light 
fell only upon faults. 

No light, but rather darkness visible 
Served only to discover sights of woe. 

MILTON'S r. L. i. 63 

With these fragments of authority, the slaves of 
Flattery and Malevolence marched out at the com- 
mand of their mistresses, to confer immortality, or 
condemn to oblivion. But the sceptre had now lost 

VOL. XVI. 6 

82 RAMBLER. NO. 4. 

its power ; and Time passes his sentence at leisure, 
without any regard to their determinations. 

No. 4. SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 1750. 

— Simul et jucunda et idonea dicere vitce. 

HOR. ARS POET. 334. 

And join both profit and delight in one. creech. 

The works of fiction, with which the present gen- 
eration seems more particularly delighted, are such 
as exhibit life in its true state, diversified only by 
accidents that daily happen in the world, and in- 
fluenced by passions and qualities which are really 
to be found in conversing with mankind. 

This kind of writing may be termed, not, improp- 
erly, the comedy of romance, and is to be conducted 
nearly by the rules of comic poetry. Its province 
is to bring about natural events by easy means, and 
to keep up curiosity without the help of wonder : it 
is, therefore, precluded from the machines and ex- 
pedients of the heroic romance, and can neither em- 
ploy giants to snatch away a lady from the nuptial 
rites, nor knights to bring her back from captivity ; 
it can neither bewilder its personages in deserts, nor 
lodge them in imaginary castles. 

I remember a remark made by Scaliger upon 
Pontanus, that all his writings are filled with the 
same images ; and that, if you take from him his 
liUes and his roses, his satyrs and his dryads, he will 

NO. 4. RAMBLER. 83 

have nothing left that can be called poetry. In like 
manner, almost all the fictions of the last age will 
vanish, if you deprive them of a hermit and a wood, 
a battle and a shipwreck. 

Why this wild strain of imagination found recep- 
tion so long, in polite and learned ages, it is not easy 
to conceive ; but we cannot wonder that while read- 
ers could be procured, the authors were willing to 
continue it ; for when a man had by practice gained 
some fluency of language, he had no further care 
than to retire to his closet, let loose his invention, 
and heat his mind with incredibilities ; a book was 
thus produced without fear of criticism, without the 
toil of study, without knowledge of nature, or ac- 
quaintance with life. 

The task of our present writers is very different ; 
it requires, together with that learning which is to 
be gained from books, that experience which can 
never be attained by solitary dihgence, but must 
arise from general converse and accurate observa- 
tion of the living world. Their performances have, 
as Horace expresses it, plus oneris quantum venice 
minus, little indulgence, and, therefore, more diffi- 
culty. They are engaged in portraits of which 
every one knows the original, and can detect any 
deviation from exactness of resemblance. Other 
writings are safe, except from the malice of learn- 
ing, but these are in danger from every common 
reader ; as the slipper ill executed was censured by 
a shoemaker who happened to stop in his way at 
the Venus of Apelles. 

But llie fear of not being approved as just copiers 
of human manners, is not the most important con- 
cern that an author of this sort ought to have be- 
fore him. These books are written chieliy to the 
young, the ignorant, and the idle, to wliom they 

84 RAMBLER. NO. 4. 

serve as lectures of conduct, and introductions into 
life. They are the entertainment of minds unfur- 
nished with ideas, and, therefore, easily susceptible 
of impressions ; not fixed by principles, and, there- 
fore, easily following the current of fancy ; not in- 
formed by experience, and consequently open to 
every false suggestion and partial account. 

That the hisrhest deo^ree of reverence should be 
paid to youth, and that nothing indecent should be 
suffered to approach their eyes or ears, are precepts 
extorted by sense and virtue from an ancient writer, 
by no means eminent for chastity of thought. The 
same kind, though not the same degree of caution, is 
required in every thing which is laid before them, 
to secure them from unjust prejudices, perverse 
opinions, and incongruous combinations of images. 

In the romances formerly written, every trans- 
action and sentiment was so remote from all that 
passes among men, that the reader was in very little 
danger of making any applications to himself; the 
virtues and crimes were equally beyond his sphere 
of activity ; and he amused himself with heroes and 
with traitors, deUverers and persecutors, as with be- 
ings of another species, whose actions were regulat- 
ed upon motives of their own, and who had neither 
faults nor excellences in common with himself. 

But when an adventurer is levelled with the rest 
of the world, and acts in such scenes of the univer- 
sal drama as may be the lot of any other man, 
young spectators fix their eyes upon him with closer 
attention, and hope, by observing his behaviour 
and success, to regulate their own practices, when 
they shall be engaged in the like part. 

For this reason these familiar histories may, per- 
haps, be made of greater use than the solemnities 
of professed morality, and convey the knowledge of 

NO. 4. RAMBLER. 85 

vice and virtue with more efficacy than axioms and 
definitions. But if the power of example is so great, 
as to take possession of the memory by a kind of 
violence, and produce effects almost without the 
intervention of the will, care ought to be taken, that, 
when the choice is unrestrained, the best examples 
only should be exhibited ; and that which is likely 
to operate so strongly, should not be mischievous or 
uncertain in its effects. 

The chief advantage which these fictions have 
over real life is, that their authors are at liberty, 
though not to invent, yet to select objects, and to 
cull from the mass of mankind, those individuals 
upon which the attention ought most to be employed ; 
as a diamond, though it cannot be made, Vnay be 
polished by art, and placed in such a situation, as 
to display that lustre which before was buried 
among: common stones. 

It is justly considered as the greatest excellency 
of art, to imitate nature; but it is necessary to dis- 
tinguish those parts of nature, which are most 
proper for imitation : greater care is still required 
in representing life, which is so often discoloured by 
passion, or deformed by wickedness. If the world 
be promiscuously described, I cannot see of what 
use it can be to read the account ; or why it may 
not be as safe to turn tiie eye immediately upon 
mankind as upon a mirror which shows all that pre- 
sents itself witliout discrimination. 

It is, therefore, not a sufiicient vindication of a 
character, that it is drawn as it appears, for many 
characters ought never to be drawn ; nor of a narra- 
tive, that the train of events is agreeable to observa- 
tion and experience, for that observation which is 
called knowlcdfre of the world will be found much 
more freciuently to make men cuiniing tlian good. 

86 RAMBLER. NO. 4. 

The purpose of these writings is surely not only to 
show mankind, but to provide that they may be 
seen hereafter with less hazard ; to teach the means 
of avoiding the snares which are laid by Treachery 
for Innocence, without infusing any wish for that 
superiority with which the betrayer flatters his van- 
ity ; to give the power of counteracting fraud, with- 
out the temptation to practise it ; to initiate youth 
by mock encounters in the art of necessary defence, 
and to increase prudence without impairing virtue. 

Many writers, for the sake of following nature, 
so mingle good and bad qualities in their principal 
personages, that they are both equally conspicuous ; 
and as we accompany them through their adven- 
tures with delight, and are led by degrees to inter- 
est ourselves in their favour, we lose the abhorrence 
of their faults, because they do not hinder our plea- 
sure, or, perhaps, regard them with some kindness 
for being united with so much merit. 

There have been men, indeed, splendidly wicked, 
whose endowments threw a brightness on their 
crimes, and whom scarce any villany made perfectly 
detestable, because they never could be wholly di- 
vested of their excellences ; but such have been in 
all ages the great corrupters of the world, and their 
resemblance ought no more to be preserved, than 
the art of murdering without pain. 

Some have advanced, without due attention to 
the consequences of this notion, that certain virtues 
have their correspondent faults, and, therefore, that 
to exhibit either apart is to deviate from probability. 
Thus men are observed by Swift to be ' grateful in 
the same degree as they are resentful.' This prin- 
ciple, witli others of the same kind, supposes man 
to act from a brute impulse, and pursue a certain 
degree of inclination, without any choice of the ob- 

NO. 4. RAMBLER. 87 

ject ; for, otherwise, though it should be allowed that 
gratitude and resentment arise from the same con- 
stitution of the passions, it follows not that they will 
be equally indulged when reason is consulted ; yet 
unless that consequence be admitted, this sagacious 
maxim becomes an empty sound, without any rela- 
tion to practice or to life. 

Nor is it evident, that even the first motions to 
these effects are always in the same proportion. For 
pride, which produces quickness of resentment, will 
obstruct gratitude, by unwillingness to admit that 
inferiority which obligation implies ; and it is very 
unlikelv, that he who cannot think he receives a 
favour, will acknowledge or repay it. 

It is of the utmost importance to mankind, that 
positions of this tendency should be laid open and 
confuted; for while men consider good and evil as 
springing from the same root, they will spare the 
one for the sake of the other, and in judging, if not 
of others at least of themselves, will be apt to esti- 
mate their virtues by their vices. To this ftital 
error all those will contribute, who confound the 
colours of right and wrong, and, instead of helping 
to settle their boundaries, mix them with so much 
art, that no common mind is able to disunite them. 

Ill narratives, where historical veracity has no 
place, 1 cannot discover why there should not be 
exhibited the most perfect idea of virtue ; of virtue 
not angelical, nor above probability, for what we 
cannot credit we shall never imitate, but the highest 
and purest that humanity can reach, which exercised 
in such trials as the various revolutions of things 
shall bring upon it, may, by conquering some calam- 
ities, and enduring others, teach us what we may 
hope, and what we can perforin. Vice, for vice is 
necessary to be shown, should always disgust ; nor 

88 RAMBLER. NO. 5. 

should the graces of gayety, or the dignity of cour- 
age, be so united with it, as to reconcile it to the 
mind : wherever it appears, it should raise hatred 
by the malignity of its practices, and contempt by 
the meanness of its stratagems: for while it is sup- 
ported by either parts or spirit, it will be seldom 
heartily abhorred. The Romati tyrant was content 
to be hated, if he was but feared ; and there are 
thousands of the readers of romances willing to be 
thought wicked, if they may be allowed to be wits. 
It is, therefore, to be steadily inculcated, that virtue 
is the highest proof of understanding, and the only 
solid basis of greatness ; and that vice is the natural 
consequence of narrow thoughts ; that it begins in 
mistake, and ends in ignominy. 

No. 5. TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 1750. 

Et nunc omnis uger, nunc omnis j^'^vturlt arbos, 
Nunc frondent silvce^ nunc formoslsslmus annus. 

viRG. ECL. iii. 56. 

Now every field, now every tree is green ; 
Now genial nature's fairest face is seen. 


Every man is sufficiently discontented with some 
circumstances of his present state, to suffer his im- 
agination to range more or less in quest of future 
happiness, and to fix upon some point of time, in 
which, by the removal of the inconvenience which 
now perplexes him, or acquisition of the advantage 

NO. 5. RAMBLER. 89 

which he at present wants, he shall find the condi- 
tion of his life very much improved. 

Wiien this time, which is too often expected with 
great impatience, at last arrives, it generally comes 
Avithout the blessing for which it was desired ; but 
we solace ourselves with some new prospect, and 
press forward again with equal eagerness. 

It is lucky for a man, in whom this temper pre- 
vails, when he turns his hopes upon things wholly 
out of his own power ; since he forbears then to pre- 
cipitate his affairs, for the sake of the great event 
that is to complete his felicity, and waits for the 
blissful hour with less neglect of the measure? ne- 
cessary to be taken in the mean time. 

I have long known a person of this temper, who 
indulged his dream of happiness with less hurt to 
himself than such chimerical wishes commonly pro- 
duce, and adjusted his scheme with such address, 
that his hopes were in full bloom three parts of the 
year, and in the other part never wholly blasted. 
Many, perhaps, would be desirous of learning by 
what means he procured to himself such a cheap 
and lasting satisfaction. It was gained by a con- 
stant practice of referring the removal of all his 
uneasiness to the coming of the next spring ; if his 
health was impaired, the spring would restore it ; if 
what he wanted was at a high price, it would fall its 
value in tlie spring. 

The spring, indeed, did often come without any 
of these effects, but he was always certain that the 
next would be more propitious; nor was ever con- 
vinced, that the present spring would fail him be- 
fore the middle of summer ; for he always talked of 
the spring as coming till it was past, and when it 
was once past, every one agreed with him that it 
was coming. 

90 RAMBLER. NO. 5. 

By long converse with this man, I am, perhaps, 
brought to feel immoderate pleasure in the contem- 
plation of this delightful season; but I have the 
satisfaction of finding many, whom it can be no 
shame to resemble, infected with the same enthu- 
siasm ; for there is, I believe, scarce any poet of 
eminence, who has not left some testimony of his 
fondness for the flowers, the zephyrs, and the war- 
blers of the spring. Nor has the most luxuriant 
imagination been able to describe the serenity and 
happiness of the golden age, otherwise than by giv- 
ing a perpetual sjDring as the highest reward of un- 
corrfipted innocence. 

There is, indeed, something inexpressibly pleas- 
ing in the annual renovation of the world, and the 
new display of the treasures of nature. The cold 
and darkness of winter, with the naked deformity 
of every object on which we turn our eyes, make us 
rejoice at the succeeding season, as well for what 
we have escaped, as for what we may enjoy ; and 
every budding flower, which a warm situation brings 
early to our view, is considered by us as a mes- 
senger to notify the approach of more joyous days. 

The spring affords to a mind, so free from the 
disturbance of cares or passions as to be vacant to 
calm amusements, almost every thing that our pres- 
ent state makes us capable of enjoying. The 
variegated verdure of the fields and woods, the suc- 
cession of grateful odours, the voice of pleasure 
pouring out its notes on every side, with the glad- 
ness apparently conceived by every animal, from 
the growth of his food, and the clemency of the 
weather, throw over the whole earth an air of 
gayety, significantly expressed by the smile of 

Yet there are men to whom these scenes are able 

NO. 5. RAMBLER. 91 

to give no delight, and who huny away from all 
the varieties of rural beauty, to lose their hours and 
divert their thoughts by cards, or assemblies, a 
tavern dinner, or the prattle of the day. 

It may be laid down as a position which will 
seldom deceive, that when a man cannot bear his 
own company, there is something wrong. He must 
fly from himself, either because he feels a tedious- 
ness in life from the equipoise of an empty mind, 
which, having no tendency to one motion more than 
another but as it is impelled by some external 
power, must always have recourse to foreign objects ; 
or he must be afraid of the intrusion of some un- 
pleasing ideas, and, perhaps, is struggling to escape 
from the remembrance of a loss, the fear of a ca- 
lamity, or some other thought of greater horror. 

Those whom sorrow incapacitates to enjoy the 
pleasures of contemplation, may properly apply to 
such diversions, provided they are innocent, as lay 
strong hold on the attention ; and those, whom fear 
of any future attiiction chains down to misery, must 
endeavour to obviate the danger. 

My considerations shall, on this occasion, be turned 
on such as are burdensome to themselves merely 
because they want subjects for reflection, and to 
whom the volume of nature is thrown open, without 
affording them pleasure or instruction, because tiiey 
never learned to read the characters. 

A French author has advanced this seeming para- 
dox, that ' very few men know how to take a walk ; ' 
and, indeed, it is true, that few know how to take a 
walk with a prospect of any other pleasure, than the 
same com})any would have afforded them at home. 

There are animals that borrow their colour from 
the neighbouring body, and conse({uently vary their 
hue as they happen to change their place. In like 

92 RAMBLER. NO. 5. 

manner it ought to be the endeavour of every man 
to derive his reflections from the objects about him ; 
for it is to no purpose that he alters his position, if 
his attention continues fixed to the same point. The 
mind should be kept open to the access of every new 
idea, and so far disengaged from the predominance 
of particular thoughts as easily to accommodate it- 
self to occasional entertainment. 

A man that has formed this habit of turning every 
new object to his entertainment, finds in the produc- 
tions of nature an inexhaustible stock of materials 
upon which he can employ himself, without any 
temptations to envy or malevolence ; faults, perhaps, 
seldom totally avoided by those, whose judgment is 
much exercised upon the works of art. He has al- 
ways a certain prospect of discovering new reasons 
for adoring the sovereign Author of the universe, 
and probable hopes of making some discovery of 
benefit to others, or of profit to himself. There is 
no doubt but many vegetables and animals have 
qualities that might be of great use, to the knowledge 
of which there is not required much force of pene- 
tration or fatigue of study, but only frequent experi- 
ments and close attention. What is said by the 
chemists of their darling mercury, is, perhaps, true 
of everybody through the whole creation, that, if a 
thousand lives should be spent upon it, all its prop- 
erties would not be found out. 

Mankind must necessarily be diversified by various 
tastes, since life affords and requires such multipli- 
city of employments, and a nation of naturalists is 
neither to be hoped nor desired ; but it is surely not 
improper to point out a fresh amusement to those 
who languish in health, and repine in plenty, for 
want of some source of diversion that may be less 
easily exhausted, and to inform the multitudes of 

NO. 6. RAMBLKR. 03 

both sexes, who are burdened with every new 
day, that there are many shows which they have 
not seen. 

He that enhirges his curiosity after the works of 
nature, demonstrably mukiphes the inlets to happi- 
ness ; and, therefore, the younger part of my readers, 
to whom I dedicate this vernal speculation, must ex- 
cuse me for calling upon them, to make use at once 
of the spring of the year, and the spring of life ; to 
acquire, while their minds may be yet impressed 
with new images, a love of innocent pleasures, and 
an ardour for useful knowledge ; and to remember 
that a blighted spring makes a barren year, and that 
the vernal flowers, however beautiful and gay, are 
only intended by nature as preparatives to autum- 
nal fruits. 

No. 6. SATURDAY, APRIL 7, 1750. 

Strenua nos exercet inertia : navibus atque 
Qttadrifjis petimus bene river e. Quod jjeiis, hie est; 
Est Ulubiis, animus si te non dejicit cequns. 

HOR. EPIST. ii. 11. 28. 

Active in indolence, abroad we roam 
In quest of happiness,' which dwells at home: 
With vain pursuits fatigued, at length you '11 find, 
No place excludes it from an equal mind. 


That man should never suffer his happiness to 
depend upon external circumstances, is one of the 

94 RAMBLER. NO. 6. 

chief precepts of the Stoical philosophy ; a precept, 
indeed, which that loftj sect has extended beyond 
the condition of human life, and in which some of 
them seem to have comprised an utter exclusion of 
all corporal pain and pleasure from the regard or 
attention of a wise man. 

Such sapientia insamens, as Horace calls the 
doctrine of another sect, such extravagance of philo- 
sophy, can w^ant neither authority nor argument for 
its confutation ; it is overthrown by the experience 
of every hour, and the powers of nature rise up 
against it. But we may very properly inquire, how 
near to this exalted state it is in our power to ap- 
proach, how far we can exempt ourselves from out- 
ward influences, and secure to our minds a state of 
tranquillity ; for, though the boast of absolute inde- 
pendence is ridiculous and vain, yet a mean flexi- 
bility to every impulse, and a patient submission to 
the tyranny of casual troubles, is below the dignity 
of that mind, which, however depraved or weakened, 
boasts its derivation from a celestial original, and 
hopes for a union with infinite goodness and unvari- 
able felicity. 

Ni viilis pejora f ovens 

Prqprium cleserat ortum. 

Unless the soul, to vice a thrall, 
Desert her own original. 

The necessity of erecting ourselves to some degree 
of intellectual dignity, and of preserving resources 
of pleasure, which may not be wholly at the mercy 
of accident, is never more apparent than when we 
turn our eyes upon those whom fortune has let loose 
to their own conduct ; who, not being chained down 
by their condition to a regular and stated allotment 

NO. 6. RAMBLER. 95 

of their hours, are obliged to find tliemselves busi- 
ness or diversion, and having nothing within tliat 
can entertain or employ them, are compelled to try 
all the arts of destroying time. 

The numberless expedients practised by this class 
of mortals to alleviate the burden of life, are not 
less shameful, nor, perhaps, much less pitiable, than 
those to which a trader on the edge of bankru[)tcy 
is reduced. I have seen melancholy overspread a 
whole family at the disappointment of a party for 
cards ; and when, after the proposal of a thousand 
schemes, and the dispatch of the footman upon a 
hundred messages, they have submitted with gloomy 
resignation to the misfortune of passing one evening 
in conversation with each other, on a sudden, such 
are the revolutions of the world, an unexpected 
visitor has brought them relief, acceptable as provis- 
ion to a starving city, and enabled them to hold out 
till the next day. 

The general remedy of those, who are uneasy 
without knowing the cause, is change of place ; they 
are willing to imagine that their pain is the conse- 
quence of some local inconvenience, and endeavoui 
to fly from it, as children from their shadows ; al- 
ways hoping for some more satisfactory delight from 
every new scene, and always returning home with 
disappointment and complaints. 

\Vho can look U[)on this kind of infatuation, with- 
out reflecting on those that suffer under the dreadful 
symptom of canine madness, termed by physicians 
the dread of water? These miserable wretches, 
unable to drink, though burning with thirst, are 
sometimes known to try various contortions, or in- 
clinations of the body, flattering tliemselves that 
they can swallow in one posture that licpior which 
they flnd in anotiier to repel tlieir lips. 


Yet such folly is not peculiar to the thoughtless 
or ignorant, but sometimes seizes those minds which 
seem most exempted from it, by the variety of at- 
tainments, quickness of penetration, or severity of 
judgment; and, indeed, the pride of wit and know- 
ledge is often mortified by finding that they confer 
no security against the common errors, which mis- 
lead the weakest and meanest of mankind. 

These reflections arose in my mind upon the re- 
membrance of a passage in Cowley's preface to his 
poems, where, however exalted by genius, and en- 
larged by study, he informs us of a scheme of happi- 
ness to which the imagination of a girl upon the loss 
of her first lover, could have scarcely given way ; 
but which he seems to have indulged, till he had 
totally forgotten its absurdity, and would probably 
have put in execution, had he been hindered only 
by his reason. 

" My desire," says he, " has been for some years 
past, though the execution has been accidentally 
diverted, and does still vehemently continue, to re- 
tire myself to some of our American plantations, not 
to seek for gold, or enrich myself with the traffic of 
those parts, which is the end of most men that tra- 
vel thither ; but to forsake this world forever, with 
all the vanities and vexations of it, and to bury my- 
self there in some obscure retreat, but not without 
the consolation of letters and philosophy." 

Such was the chimerical provision which Cowley 
had made, in his own mind, for the quiet of his re- 
maining life, and which he seems to recommend to 
posterity, since there is no other reason for disclosing 
it. Surely, no stronger instance can be given of a 
persuasion that content was the inhabitant of par- 
ticular regions, and that a man might set sail with a 
fair wind, and leave behind him all his cares, in- 
cumbrances, and calamities. 

NO. 6. RAMBLER. 97 

If lie travelled so far with no other purpose than 
to bury himself in some obscure retreat, he might 
have found, in his own country, innumerable coverts 
sufficiently dark to have concealed the genius of 
Cowley ; for whatever might be his opinion of the 
importunity with which he should be summoned back 
into public life, a short experience would have con- 
vinced him, that privation is easier than acquisition, 
and that it would require little continuance to free 
himself from the intrusion of the world. There is 
l)ride enough in the human heart to prevent much 
desire of acquaintance with a man, by whom we are 
sure to be neglected, however his reputation for 
science or virtue may excite our curiosity or esteem, 
so that the lover of retirement needs not be afraid 
lest the respect of strangers should overwhelm him 
with visits. Even those to whom he has formerlv 
been known, will very patiently support his absence 
when they have tried a little to live without him, 
and found new diversions for those moments which 
his company contributed to exhilarate. 

It was, perhaps, ordained by Providence, to hinder 
us from tyrannizing over one another, that no indi- 
vidual should be of such importance, as to cause, by 
his retirement or death, any chasm in the world. 
And Cowley had conversed to little purpose with 
mankind, if he had never remarked, how soon the 
useful friend, the gay companion, and the favoured 
lover, when once they are removied from before the 
sight, give way to the succession of new objects. 

The privacy, therefore, of his hermitage might 
have been safe enough from violation, though he 
had chosen it within the limits of his native island ; 
he might have found here preservatives against the 
vanities and vexations of the world, not less effica- 
cious than those which the woods or fields of America 

VOL. XVI. 7 

98 RAMBLER. NO. 6. 

could afford him ; but having once his mind imbit- 
tered with disgust, he conceived it impossible to be 
far enough from the cause of his uneasiness ; and 
was posting away with the expedition of a coward, 
who, for want of venturing to looli behind him, thinks 
the enemy perpetually at his heels. 

When he was interrupted by company, or fatigued 
with business, he so strongly imaged to himself the 
happiness of leisure and retreat, that he determined 
to enjoy them for the future without interruption, 
and to exclude forever all that could deprive him 
of his darling satisfaction. He forgot, in the vehe- 
mence of desire, that solitude and quiet owe their 
pleasures to those miseries, which he was so studi- 
ous to obviate ; for such are the vicissitudes of the 
world, through all its parts, that day and night, 
labour and rest, hurry and retirement, endear each 
other ; such are the changes that keep the mind in 
action ; we desire, we pursue, we obtain, we are 
satiated ; we desire something else, and begin a 
new pursuit. 

If he had proceeded in his project, and fixed his 
habitation in the most delightful part of the new 
world, it may be doubted, whether his distance from 
the vanities of life would have enabled him to keep 
away the vexations. It is common for a man who 
feels pain, to fancy that he could bear it better in 
any other part. Cowley having known the troubles 
and perplexities of a particular condition, readily 
persuaded himself that nothing worse was to be 
found, and that every alteration would bring some 
improvement ; he never suspected that the cause of 
his unhappiness was within, that his own passions 
were not sufficiently regulated, and that he was 
harassed by his own impatience, which could never 
be without something to awaken it, would accompany 

NO. 7. KAMBLER. 99 

him over the sea, and find its way to his American 
Elysium. He would, upon the trial, have been soon 
convinced, that the fountain of content must spring 
up in the mind ; and that he, who has so little know- 
ledge of human nature, as to seek happiness by 
changing any thing, but his own dispositions, will 
waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the 
griefs wliich he purposes to remove. 

No. 7. TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 1750. 

quiperpetud mundum ratione gubernas, 

Terrarum coelique Sator ! — 

Disjice terrenes nebulas etpondera molls, 

Atque tuo splendore mica ! Tu namque serenum, 

Tu requies tranquilla piis. Te cernere, Jinis, 

Principium, vector, dux, semita, terminus, idem. 


thou whose power o'er moving worlds presides, 
Whose voice created, and wliose wisdom guides, 
On darkling man in pure efFulgence shine, 
And cheer the clouded mind with light divine. 
'Tis thine alone to calm the pious breast 
With silent confidence and holy rest: 
From thee, great God, we spring, to thee we tend, 
Path, motive, guide, original, and end. 

The love of retirement has, in all ages, adhered 
closely to those minds which have been most en- 
larged by knowledge or elevated by genius. Those 
who enjoyed every thing generally supposed to 
confer ha[)piness, have been forced to seek it in the 
shades of privacy. Though they possessed both 

100 RAMBLER. NO. 7. 

power and riches, and were, therefore, surrounded 
by men, who considered it as their chief interest to 
remove from them everj thing that might offend 
their ease or interrupt their pleasure, they have 
soon felt the languors of satiety, and found them- 
selves unable to pursue the race of life without fre- 
quent respirations of intermediate solitude. 

To produce this disposition nothing appears requi- 
site but quick sensibility and active imagination ; 
for, though not devoted to virtue or science, the 
man, whose faculties enable him to make ready 
comparisons of the present with the past, will find 
such a constant recurrence of the same pleasures 
and troubles, the same expectations and disappoint- 
ments, that he will gladly snatch an hour of retreat, 
to let his thoughts expatiate at large, and seek for 
that variety in his own ideas, which the objects of 
sense cannot afford him. 

Nor will greatness, or abundance, exempt him 
from the importunities of this desire, since, if he is 
born to think, he cannot restrain himself from a 
thousand inquiries and speculations, which he must 
pursue by his own reason, and which the splendour 
of his condition can only hinder ; for those who are 
most exalted above dependence or control, are yet 
condemned to pay so large a tribute of their time 
to custom, ceremony, and popularity, that, accord- 
ing to the Greek proverb, no man in the house is 
more a slave than the master. 

When a king asked Euclid, the mathematician, 
whether he could not explain his art to him in a 
more compendious manner, he was answered, that 
there was no royal way to geometry. Other things 
may be seized by might, or purchased with money, 
but knowledge is to be gained only by study, and 
study to be prosecuted only in retirement. 

NO. 7. RAMBLER. 101 

These are some of the motives wliich have Iiad 
power to sequester kings and heroes from the crowds 
that soothed them with flatteries, or inspirited them 
with acchimations ; but their etficacy seems confined 
to the higher mind, and to operate little upon the 
common classes of mankind, to whose conceptions 
the present assemblage of things is adequate, and 
who seldom range beyond those entertainments and 
vexations, which solicit their attention by pressing 
on their senses. 

But there is a universal reason for some stated 
intervals of solitude, which the institutions of the 
church call upon me, now especially, to mention ; a 
reason, which extends as wide as moral duty, or the 
hopes of divine favour in a future state ; and which 
ought to influence all ranks of life, and all degrees 
of intellect ; since none can imagine themselves not 
comprehended in its obligation, but such as determine 
to set their Maker at defiance by obstinate wicked- 
ness, or whose enthusiastic security of his approba- 
tion places them above external ordinances, and all 
human means of improvement. 

The great task of him who conducts his life by 
the precepts of religion, is to make the future pre- 
dominate over the present, to impress upon his mind 
60 strong a sense of the importance of obedience to 
the divine will, of the value of the reward promised to 
virtue, and the terrors of the punishment denounced 
against crimes, as may overbear all the tempta- 
tions which temporal hope or fear can bring in his 
way, and enable him to bid equal defiance to joy 
and sorrow, to turn away at one time from the alhire- 
ments of ambition, and push forward at another 
against the threats of calamity. 

It is not witliout reason tliat the apostle repre- 
sents our passage through tliis stage of our existence 

102 RAMBLER. NO. 7. 

by images drawn from the alarms and solicitude of 
a military life ; for we are placed in such a state, 
that almost every thing about us conspires against 
our chief interest. We are in danger from what- 
ever can get possession of our thoughts ; all that can 
excite in us either pain or pleasure has a tendency 
to obstruct the way that leads to happiness, and 
either to turn us aside, or retard our progress. 

Our senses, our appetites, and our passions, are 
our lawful and faithful guides, in most things that 
relate solely to this life ; and, therefore, by the hour- 
ly necessity of consulting them, we gradually sink 
into an implicit submission, and habitual confidence. 
Every act of compliance with their motions facilitates 
a second compliance, every new step towards de- 
pravity is made with less reluctance than the former, 
and thus the descent to life merely sensual is per- 
petually accelerated. 

The senses have not only that advantage over 
conscience, which things necessary must always have 
over things chosen, but they have likewise a kind of 
prescription in their favour. We feared pain much 
earlier than we apprehended guilt, and were delight- 
ed with the sensations of pleasure, before we had 
capacities to be charmed with the beauty of recti- 
tude. To this power, thus early established, and 
incessantly increasing, it must be remembered, that 
almost every man has, in some part of his life, add- 
ed new strength by a voluntary or negligent sub- 
jection of himself; for who is there that has not 
instigated his appetites by indulgence, or suffered 
them by an unresisting neutrality to enlarge their 
dominion, and multiply their demands ? 

From the necessity of dispossessing the sensitive 
faculties of the influence which they must naturally 
gain by this preoccupation of the soul, arises that 

NO. 7. RAMBLER. 103 

conflict between opposite desires, in the first endeav- 
ours after a religious life ; which, however enthu- 
siastically it mav have been described, or however 
contemj)tuously ridiculed, will naturally be felt in 
some degree, though varied without end, by dilFer- 
ent tempers of mind, and innumerable circum- 
stances of health or condition, greater or less fervour, 
more or fewer temptations to relapse. 

From the perpetual necessity of consulting the 
animal faculties, in our provision for the present 
life, arises the difficulty of withstanding their im- 
pulses, even in cases where they ought to be of no 
weight ; for the motions of sense are instantaneous, 
its objects strike unsought ; we are accustomed to 
follow its directions, and, therefore, often submit to 
the sentence without examining the authority of the 

Thus it appears, upon a philosophical estimate, 
that, supposing the mind, at any certain time, in an 
equipoise between the pleasures of this life and the 
hopes of futurity, present objects falling more fre- 
quently into the scale, would in time preponderate, 
and that our regard for an invisible state would 
grow every moment weaker, till at last it would 
lose all its activity, and become absolutely without 

To prevent this dreadful event, the balance is put 
into our own hands, and we have power to transfer 
the weight to either side. The motives to a life 
of holiness are infinite, not less than the favour or 
anger of Omnipotence, not less than eternity of ha})- 
piness or misery. But these can only influence our 
conduct a< they gain our attention, which the busi- 
ness, or diversions, of the world are always calling 
off by contrary attracti(jns. 

The great art, therefore, of piety, and tlie end for 

104 RAMBLER. NO. 7. 

which all the rites of religion seem to be instituted, 
is the perpetual renovation of the motives to virtue, 
by a voluntary employment of our mind in the con- 
templation of its excellence, its importance, and its 
necessity ; which, in proportion as they are more 
frequently and more willingly revolved, gain a more 
forcible and permanent influence, till in time they 
become the reigning ideas, the standing principles 
of action, and the test by which every thing pro- 
posed to the judgment is rejected or approved. 

To facilitate this change of our affections, it is 
necessary that we weaken the temptations of the 
world, by retiring at certain seasons from it : for its 
influence arising only from its presence, is much 
lessened when it becomes the object of solitary medi- 
tation. A constant residence amidst noise and pleas- 
ure inevitably obliterates the impressions of piety ; 
and a frequent abstraction of ourselves into a state, 
where this life, like the next, operates only upon 
the reason, will reinstate religion in its just author- 
ity, even without those irradiations from above, the 
hope of which I have no intention to withdraw from 
the sincere and the diligent. 

This is that conquest of the world and of our- 
selves which has been always considered as the per- 
fection of human nature ; and this is only to be 
obtained by fervent' prayer, steady resolutions, and 
frequent retirement from folly and vanity, from the 
cares of avarice, and the joys of intemperance, from 
the lulling sounds of deceitful flattery, and the tempt- 
ing sight of prosperous wickedness. 

NO. 8. RAMBLER. 105 

No. 8. SATURDAY, APRIL U, 1750. 

— Patitur poenas peccandi sola voluntas ; 
Nam sceltis intra se taciturn qui cogitat itlliim, 
Facti aimen habet. — juv. sat. xiii. 208. 

Foi* he that but conceives a crime in thought, 
Contracts the danger of au actual fault. creech. 

If the most active and industrious of mankind 
was able, at the close of life, to recollect distinctly 
his past moments, and distribute them, in a regular 
account, according to the manner in which they 
have been spent, it is scarcely to be imagined how 
few would be marked out to the mind, by any per- 
manent or visible effects ; how small a proportion 
his real action would bear to his seeming possibili- 
ties of action ; how many chasms he would tind of 
wide and continued vacuity, and how many intersti- 
tial spaces unfilled, even in the most tumultuous 
hurries of business, and the most eager vehemence 
of pursuit. 

It is said by modern philosophers, that not only 
the o-reat j^lobes of matter are thinlv scattered 
through the universe, but the hardest bodies are so 
porous, that, if all matter were compressed to perfect 
solidity, it might be contained in a cube of a few 
feet. In like manner, if all the em[)loyment of life 
were crowded into the time which it really occu- 
pied, perhaps a few weeks, days, or hours, would be 
sufficient for its accom|)lisliment, so far as the mind 
was engaged in the performance. For such is the 

106 RAMBLER. NO. 8. 

inequality of our corporeal to our intellectual facul- 
ties, that we contrive in minutes what we execute 
in years, and the soul often stands an idle spectator 
of the labour of the hands and expedition of the 

For this reason, the ancient generals often found 
themselves at leisure to pursue the study of philos- 
ophy in the camp ; and Lucan, with historical vera- 
city, makes Caesar relate of himself, that he noted 
the revolutions of the stars in the midst of prepara- 
tions for battle. 

— Media inter prcelia semper 
Sideribiis, cosUque plagis, superisque vacavi. 

Amid the storms of war, with curious eyes 
I trace the planets and survey the skies. 

That the soul always exerts her peculiar powers, 
with greater or less force, is very probable, though 
the common occasions of our present condition re- 
quire but a small part of that incessant cogitation : 
and by the natural frame of our bodies, and general 
combination of the world, we are so frequently con- 
demned to inactivity, that as through all our time 
we are thinking, so for a great part of our time we 
can only think. 

Lest a power so restless should be either unprofit- 
ably or hurtfully employed, and the superfluities 
of intellect run to waste, it is no vain speculation to 
consider how we may govern our thoughts, restrain 
them from irregular motions, or confine them from 
boundless dissipation. 

How the understanding is best conducted to the 
knowledge of science, by what steps it is to be led 
forwards in its pursuit, how it is to be cured of its 
defects, and habituated to new studies, has been the 

NO. 8. RAMBLER. 107 

inquiry of many acute and learned men, whose ob- 
servations I shall not either adopt or censure ; my 
purpose being to consider the moral discii)line of the 
mind, and to promote the increase of virtue rather 
than of learning. 

Tills inquiry seems to have been neglected for 
want of remembering that all action has its orisriii 
in the mind, and that, therefore, tosutFertiie thoughts 
to be vitiated, is to poison the fountains of morality ; 
irregular desires will produce licentious practices ; 
what men allow themselves to wish they will soon 
believe, and will be at last incited to execute what 
they please themselves with contriving. 

For this reason the casuists of the Romish church, 
who gain, by confession, great opportunities of 
knowing. human nature, have generally determined 
that what it is a crime to do, it is a crime to think. 
Since by revolving with pleasure the facility, safety, 
or advantage of a wicked deed, a man soon begins 
to find his constancy relax, and his detestation soften ; 
the happiness of success glittering before him, with- 
draws his attention from the atrociousness of the 
guilt, and acts are at last confidently perpetrated, 
of which the first conception only crept into the 
mind, disguised in pleasing complications, and per- 
mitted ratiier than invited. 

No man has ever been drawn to crimes by love 
or jealousy, envy, or hatred, but he can tell how 
easily he might at first have repelled the tem[)tation, 
how readily his mind would have obeyed a call to 
any other object, and how weak his passion has been 
after some casual avocation, till he has recalled it 
again to his heart, and revived the vi[)er by too 
warm a fondness. 

Such, tlierefore, is the importance of k<M»ping 
reason a constant guard over imagination, that we 

108 RAMBLER. NO. 8. 

have otherwise no security for our own virtue, but 
may corrupt our hearts in the most recluse solitude, 
with more pernicious and tyrannical appetites and 
wishes than the commerce of the world will gener- 
ally produce ; for we are easily shocked by crimes 
which appear at once in their full magnitude ; but 
the gradual growth of our own wickedness, endeared 
by interest, and palliated by all the artifices of self- 
deceit, gives us time to form distinctions in our own 
favour, and reason, by degrees, submits to absurdity, 
as the eye is in time accommodated to darkness. 

In this disease of the soul, it is of the utmost im- 
portance to apply remedies at the beginning ; and, 
therefore, I shall endeavour to show what thoughts 
are to be rejected or improved, as they regard the 
past, present, or future ; in hopes that some may be 
awakened to caution and vigilance, who, perhaps, 
indulge themselves in dangerous dreams : so much 
the more dangerous, because, being yet only dreams, 
they are concluded innocent. 

The recollection of the past is only useful by way 
of provision for the future ; and, therefore, in review- 
ing all occurrences that fall under a religious con- 
sideration, it is proper that a man stop at the first 
thoughts, to remark how he was led thither, and 
why he continues the reflection. If he is dwelling 
with delight upon a stratagem of successful fraud, a 
night of licentious riot, or an intrigue of guilty 
pleasure, let him summon oif his imagination as from 
an unlawful pursuit, expel those passages from his 
remembrance, of which, though he cannot seriously 
approve them, the pleasure overpowers the guilt, 
and refer them to a future hour, when they may be 
considered with greater safety. Such an hour will 
certainly come ; for the impressions of past pleasure 
are always lessening, but the sense of guilt, which 
respects futurity, continues the same. 

NO. 8. RAMBLER. 109 

The serious and impartial retrospect of our con- 
duct is indisputably necessary to the confirmation 
or recovery of virtue, and is, therefore, recommend- 
ed under tiie name of self-examination, by divines, 
as the first act previous to repentance. It is, indeed, 
of so great use, that without it we should always be 
to begin life, be seduced forever by the same allure- 
ments, and misled by the same fallacies. But in 
order that we may not lose the advantage of our 
experience, we must endeavour to see every thing 
in its proper form, and excite in ourselves those 
sentiments which tlie great Author of nature has 
decreed the concomitants or followers of good or 
bad actions. 

Mijd' VTTVO ■ /laXaKOiGtv err' bn/mai TrpocSe^aadai, 
Uplv nov rjneptvCjv epyuv rpl^ tKaoTOV ETiiT^ddv ' 
Till nrapiiStjv ; tI c5' tpe^a ; tI fiot dtoi' ovk eTe?J.a&r] ; 
'Ap^iifievog 6' utto TTpioTov C7re^<i?i • kuI fieTSKetTa, 
Aet.?M ukv eKTrpij^ag^ k7Tf!T?ofjaceo, XPV'^'''^ ^^e, rip-ov. 

" Let not sleep," says Pythagoras, " fall upon thy 
eyes till thou hast thrice reviewed the transactions 
of the past day. "Where have I turned aside from 
rectitude? What liave I been doing? What have 
I left undone, which I ought to have done? Bejjin 
thus from the first act, and proceed, and in conclu- 
sion, at the ill which thou hast done be troubled, 
and rejoice for the good." 

Our thoughts on present things being determined 
by the objects before us, fall not under those indul- 
gences, or excursions, whicii I am now considering. 
But I cannot forbear, under this head, to caution 
pious and tender minds, tliat are disturbed by the 
irruptions of wicked imaginations, against too great 
dejection and too anxious alarms ; for tht)Ughts are 

110 RAMBLER. NO. 8. 

only criminal, when thej are first chosen, and then 
voluntarily continued. 

Evil into the mind of God or man 

May come and go, so unapproved, and leave 

No spot or blame behind. milton's. p. l. iii. 117. 

In futurity chiefly the snares are lodged, by which 
the imagination is entangled. Futurity is the proper 
abode of hope and fear, with all their train and prog- 
eny of subordinate apprehensions and desires. In 
futurity events and chances are yet floating at large, 
without apparent connection with their causes, and 
we, therefore, easily indulge the liberty of gratifying 
ourselves with a pleasing choice. To pick and cull 
among possible advantages is, as the civil law terms 
it, in vacuum veriire to take what belongs to nobody ; 
but it has this hazard in it, that we shall be un- 
willing to quit what we have seized though an 
owner should be found. It is easy to think on that 
which may be gained, till at last we resolve to gain 
it, and to image the happiness of particular condi- 
tions till we can be easy in no other. We ought, 
at least, to let our desires fix upon nothing in an- 
other's power for the sake of our quiet, or in another's 
possession for the sake of our innocence. When a 
man finds himself led, though by a train of honest 
sentiments, to wish for that to which he has no right, 
he should start back as from a pitfall covered with 
flowers. He that fancies he should benefit the 
public more in a great station than the man that 
fills it, will in time imagine it an act of virtue to 
supplant him ; and as opposition readily kindles into 
hatred, his eagerness to do that good, to which he 
is not called, will betray him to crimes, w'hich, in his 
original scheme were never proposed. 

He, therefore, that would govern his actions by 

NO. 9. RAMBLER. Ill 

the laws of virtue, must regulate his thoughts by 
those of reason ; he must keep guilt from the re- 
cesses of his heart, and remember that the pleasures 
of fancj, and the emotions of desire, are more 
dangerous as they are more hidden, since they 
escape the awe of observation, and operate equally 
in every situation, without the concurrence of exter- 
nal opportunities. 

No. 9. TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 1750. 

Quod sis esse veils, nihilque malis. 

Choose what you are ; no other state prefer. 


It is justly remarked by Horace, that howsoever 
every man may complain occasionally of the hard- 
ships of his condition, he is seldom williiig to change 
it for any other on the same level ; for whether it 
be that he, who follows an employment, made choice 
of it at first on account of its suitableness to his in- 
clination ; or that when accident, or the determina- 
tion of others, have placed him in a particular 
station, he, by endeavouring to reconcile himself to 
it, gets the custom of viewing it only on the fairest 
side ; or whether every man thinks that class to 
which he belongs the most illustrious, merely be- 
cause he has honoured it with his name ; it is cer- 
tain that, wliatever be the reason, most men have a 
very strong and active prejudice in favour of their 

112 RAMBLER. NO. 9. 

own vocation, always working upon their minds, and 
influencing their behaviour. 

This partiality is sufficiently visible in every rank 
of the human species ; but it exerts itself more fre- 
quently and with greater force among those who 
have never learned to conceal their sentiments for 
reasons of policy, or to model their expi-essions by 
the laws of politeness^ and, therefore, the chief con- 
tests of wit among artificers and handicraftsmen 
arise from a mutual endeavour to exalt one trade by 
depreciating another. 

From the same principle are derived many con- 
solations to alleviate the incojiveniencies to which 
every calling is peculiarly exposed. A blacksmith 
was lately pleasing himself at his anvil, with ob- 
serving that, though his trade was hot and sooty, 
laborious and unhealthy, yet he had the honour of 
living by his hammer, he got his bread like a man, 
and if his son should rise in the world, and keep his 
coach, nobody could reproach him that his father 
was a tailor. 

A man, truly zealous for his fraternity, is never 
so irresistibly flattered, as when some rival calling is 
mentioned with contempt. Upon this principle, a 
linen-draper boasted that he had got a new customer, 
whom he could safely trust, for he could have no 
doubt of his honesty, since it was known, from un- 
questionable authority, that he was now filing a bill 
in chancery to delay payment for the clothes which 
he had worn the last seven years ; and he himself 
had heard him declare, in a public coffee-house, 
that he looked upon the whole generation of woollen- 
drapers to be such despicable wretches, that no 
gentleman ought to pay them. 

It has been observed that physicians and lawyers 
are no friends to religion ; and many conjectures 

NO. 9. RAMBLtll. 113 

have been formed to discover the reason of such a 
combination between men who agree in nothing else, 
and who seem less to be affected, in their own prov- 
inces, by religious opinions, than any other part of 
the community. The truth is, very few of them 
have thought about religion ; but they have all seen 
a parson ; seen him in a habit different from tluMr 
own, and, therefore, declared' war agamst him. A 
young student from the inns of court, who has often 
attacked the curate of his father's parish with such 
arguments as his acquaintances could furnish, and 
returned to town without success, is now gone down 
with a resolution to destroy him ; for he has learned 
at last how to manage a prig, and if he pretends to 
hold him again to syllogism, he has a catch in re- 
serve, which neither logic nor metaphysics can 

I laus;h to think how your unshaken Cato 
Will look aghast, when unforeseen destruction 
Pours in upon him thus. 

The malign it v of soldiers and sailors against each 
other has been often experienced at the cost of their 
country, and, perhaps, no orders of men have an 
enmity of more acrimony, or longer continuance. 
When, upon our late successes at sea, some new reg- 
ulations were concerted for establishing the rank 
of the naval commanders, a captain of foot very 
acutely remarked, that nothing was more absurd 
than to give any honorary rewards to seamen, " for 
honour," says he, " ought only to be won by bravery, 
and all the world knows that in a sea-light there 
is no danger, and, therefore, no evidence of courage." 

But although this general desire of aggrandizing 
themselves by raising their profession, betrays men 
to a thousand ridiculous and mischievous acts of 

VOL. XYI. 8 

114 RAMBLER. NO. 9. 

supplantation and detraction, yet as almost all pas- 
sions have their good as well as bad effects, it like- 
wise excites ingenuity, and sometimes raises an 
honest and useful emulation of dihgence. It may 
be observed in general, that no trade had ever 
reached the excellence to which it is now im- 
proved, had its professors looked upon it with the 
eyes of indifferent spectators ; the advances, from 
the first rude essays, must have been made by 
men who valued themselves for performances, for 
which scarce any other would be persuaded to 
esteem them. 

It is pleasing to contemplate a manufacture rising 
gradually from its first mean state by the successive 
labours of innumerable minds ; to consider the first 
hollow trunk of an oak, in which, perhaps, the shep- 
herd could scarce venture to cross a brook swelled 
with a shower, enlarged at last into a ship of war, 
attacking fortresses, terrifying nations, setting storms 
and billows at defiance, and visiting the remotest 
parts of the globe. And it might contribute to dis- 
pose us to a kinder regard for the labours of one 
another, if we were to consider from what unprom- 
ising beginnings the most useful productions of art 
have probably arisen. Who, when he saw the first 
sand or ashes, by a casual intenseness of heat melted 
into a metalline form, rugged with excrescences, and 
clouded with impurities, would have imagined, that 
in this shapeless lump lay concealed so many con- 
veniences of life, as Avould in time constitute a great 
part of the happiness of the world ? Yet, by some 
such fortuitous liquefaction, was mankind taught to 
procure a body at once in a high degree solid and 
transparent, which might admit the light of the sun, 
and exclude the violence of the wind ; which might 
extend the sight of the philosopher to new ranges 

NO. 9. RAMBLER. 115 

of existence, and cliarni him at one time with the 
unbounded extent of the material creation, and at 
another with the endless subordination of animal 
life ; and, what is yet of more importance, might 
supply the decays of nature, and succour old age 
with subsidiary sight. Thus was the first artificer 
in glass employed, though without his own know- 
ledge or expectation. He was facilitating and pro- 
longing the enjoyment of light, enlarging the avenues 
of science, and conferring the highest and most 
lasting pleasures ; he was enabling the student to 
contemplate nature; and the beauty to behold 

This passion for the honour of a profession, like 
tliat for the grandeur of our own country, is to be 
regulated, not extinguished. Every man, from the 
highest to the lowest station, ought to warm his 
heart and animate his endeavours with the hopes 
of being useful to the world, by advancing the art 
which it is his lot to exercise ; and for that end he 
must necessarily consider the whole extent of its 
application, and the whole weight of its importance. 
Hut let him not too readily imagine that another is 
ill employed, because, for want of fuller knowledge 
of his business, he is not able to comprehend its 
dignity. Every man ought to endeavour at emi- 
nence, not by pulling others down, but by raising 
himself, and enjoy the pleasure of his own superi- 
ority, whether imaginary or real, without interrupt- 
ing others in the same felicity. The philosopher may 
\cry justly be delighted with the extent of his views, 
and the artificer with the readiness of his hands; 
but let the one remember, that, without mechanical 
ix'rformances, refined speculation is an empty dream, 
and the other, that, witliout theoretical reasoning, 
dexterity is little more than a brute instinct. 

116 RAMBLER. NO. 10. 

No. 10. SATURDAY, APRIL 21, 1750. 

Posthabui iamen ilhrum mea seria ludo. 

VIRG. ECL. vii. 17. 

For trifling sports I quitted grave affairs. 

The number of correspondents which increases 
every day upon me, shows that my paper is at least 
distinguished from the common productions of the 
press. It is no less a proof of eminence to have 
many enemies than many friends, and I look upon 
every letter, whether it contains encomiums or re- 
proaches, as an equal attestation of rising credit. 
The only pain, which I can feel from my corre- 
spondence, is the fear of disgusting those, whose 
letters I shall neglect ; and, therefore, I take this 
opportunity of reminding them, that in disapproving 
their attempts, whenever it may happen, I only 
return the treatment which I often receive. Be- 
sides, many particular motives influence a writer, 
known only to himself, or his private friends ; and 
it may be justly concluded, that, not all letters which 
are postponed are rejected, nor all that are rejected 
critically condemned. 

Having thus eased my heart of the only appre- 
hension that sat heavy on it, I can please myself 
with the candour of Benevolus, who encourages me 
to proceed, without sinking under the anger of Flir- 
tilla, who quarrels with me for being old and ugly, 
and for wanting both activity of body and sprightli- 
ness of mind ; feeds her monkey with my lucubra- 

NO. 10. RAMBLER. 117 

tions, and refuses any reconciliation, till I have 
ap{)eared in vindication of masquerades. That she 
may not, however, imagine me without support, and 
left to rest wholly upon my own fortitude, I shall 
now publish some letters which I have received 
from men as well dressed, and as handsome, as her 
favourite ; and others from ladies, whom I sincerely 
believe as young, as rich, as gay, as pretty, as 
fashionable, and as often toasted and treated as 

" A set of candid readers send their respects to 
The Rambler, and acknowledge his merit in so well 
beginning a work that may be of public benefit. 
But, superior as his genius is to the impertinences 
of a tritiing age, they cannot help a wish, that he 
would condescend to the weakness of minds soft- 
ened by perpetual amusements, and now and then 
throw in, like his predecessors, some papers of a 
gay and humorous turn. Too fair a field now lies 
open, with too plentiful a harvest of follies ! let the 
cheerful Thalia put in her sickle, and, singing at 
her work, deck her hair with red and blue." 


" A lady sends her compliments to The Rambler, 
and desires to know by what other name she may 
direct to him ; what are his set of friends, his amuse- 
ments ; what his way of thinking, with regard to the 
living world, and its ways ; in short, whether he is 
a person now alive, and in town ? If he be, she 
will do herself the honour to write to him pretty 
often, and hopes, from time to time, to be the better 
for his advice and animadversions ; for his animad- 
versions on her neighbours at least. But, if he is a 
mere essayist, and troubles not himself with the 
manners of the age, she is sorry to tell him, that 

118 RAMBLER. NO. 10. 

even the genius and correctness of an Addison will 
not secure him from neglect." 

No man is so much abstracted from common life, 
as not to feel a particular pleasure from the regard 
of the female world ; the candid writers of the first 
billet will not be otfended, that my haste to satisfy 
a lady has hurried their address too soon out of my 
mind, and that I refer them for a reply to some 
future paper, in order to tell this curious inquirer 
after my other name, the answer of a philosopher 
to a man, who, meeting him in the street desired to 
see what he carried under his cloak ; " I carry it 
there," says he, " that you may not see it." But, 
though she is never to know my name, she may 
often see my face ; for I am of her opinion, that a 
diurnal writer ought to view the world, and that he 
who neglects his contemporaries, may be, with jus- 
tice, neglected by them. 

" Lady Racket sends compliments to The Ram- 
bler, and lets him know, she shall have cards at her 
house, every Sunday, the remainder of the season, 
where he will be sure of meeting all the good com- 
pany in town. By this means she hopes to see his 
papers interspersed with living characters. She 
longs to see the torch of truth produced at an assem- 
bly, and to admire the charming lustre it will throw 
on the jewels, complexions, and behaviour, of every 
dear creature there." 

It is a rule with me to receive every offer with 
the same civility as it is made; and, therefore, 
though Lady Racket may have had some reason to 
guess, that I seldom frequent card-tables on Sun- 
days, I shall not insist upon an exception, which 

NO. 10. RAMIJLER. 119 

may to her appear of so little force. My business 
has been to view, as oj)port unity was offered, every 
place in which mankind was to be seen ; but at card- 
tables, however brilliant, I have always thought my 
visit lost, for I could know nothing of the company, 
but their clothes and their faces. I saw their looks 
clouded at the beginning of every game with an 
uniform solicitude, now and then in its progress 
varied with a short triumph, at one time wrinkled 
with cunning, at another deadened with despond- 
ency, or, by accident, flushed with rage at the un- 
skilful or unlucky play of a partner. From such as- 
semblies, in whatever humour I happened to enter 
them, I was quickly forced to retire ; they were too 
trifling for me, when I was grave, and too dull, 
when I was cheerful. 

Yet I cannot but value myself upon this token 
of regard from a lady who is not afraid to stand be- 
fore ' the torch of truth.' Let her not, however, con- 
sult her curiosity more than her prudence ; but 
reflect a moment on the fate of Semele, who might 
have lived the favourite of Jupiter, if she could have 
been content without his thunder. It is dangerous 
for mortal beauty, or terrestrial virtue, to be ex- 
amined by too strong a light. The torch of truth 
shows much that we cannot, and all that we would 
not see. In a face dimpled with smiles, it has often 
discovered malevolence and envy, and detected 
under jewels and brocade, the frightful forms of 
poverty and distress. A fine hand of cards has 
changed before it into a thousand spectres of sick- 
ness, misery, and vexation ; and immense sums of 
money, while the winner counted them with trans- 
port, have, at the first glimpse of this unwelcome 
lustre, vanished from before him. If her ladyship 
therefore designs to continue her assembly, I would 

120 RAMBLER. NO. 10, 

advise her to shun such dangerous experiments, to 
satisfy herself with common appearances, and to light 
up her apartments rather with myrtle than the torch 
of truth. 

" A modest young man sends his service to the 
author of The Rambler, and will be very willing to 
assist him in his work, but is sadly afraid of being 
discouraged by having his first essay rejected, a dis- 
grace he has wofully experienced in every offer he 
had made of it to every new writer of every new 
paper ; but he comforts himself by thinking, with- 
out vanity, that this has been from a peculiar fjivour 
of the muses, who saved his performance from be- 
ing buried in trash, and reserved it to appear with 
lustre in The Rambler." 

I am equally a friend to modesty and enter- 
prise ; and, therefore, shall think it an honour to 
correspond with a young man who possesses both in 
so eminent a degree. Youth is, indeed, the time in 
which these qualities ought chiefly to be found ; 
modesty suits well with inexperience, and enterprise 
with health and vigour, and an extensive prospect 
of life. One of my predecessors has justly observed, 
that though modesty has an amiable and winning 
appearance, it ought not to hinder the exertion 
of the active powers, but that a man should show, 
under his blushes, a latent resolution. This point 
of perfection, nice as it is, my correspondent seems 
to have attained. That he is modest, his own dec- 
laration may evince ; and, I think, the latent reso- 
lution may be discovered in his letter by an acute 
observer. I will advise him, since he so well de- 
serves my precepts, not to be discouraged, though 
The Rambler should prove equally envious, or taste- 

NO. 10. RAMBLER. 121 

less, with the rest of this fraternity. If his paper is 
refused, the presses of EiigUiiid are open, let him 
try the judgment of the public. If, as it has some- 
times happened in general combinations against 
merit, he cannot persuade the world to buy his 
works, he may present them to his friends ; and if 
his friends are seized with the epidemical infatua- 
tion, and cannot find his genius, or will not confess 
it, let him then refer his cause to posterity, and 
reserve llis labours for a wiser age. 

Thus have I dispatched some of my correspond- 
ents in the usual manner, with fair w^ords, and gen- 
eral civility. But to Flirtilla, the gay Flirtilla, 
what shall I reply ? Unable as I am to fly, at her 
command, over land and seas, or to supply her, from 
week to week, with the fashions of Paris, or the 
intrigues of Madrid, I am yet not willing to incur 
her further displeasure, and would save my papers 
from her monkey on any reasonable terms. By 
what propitiation, therefore, may I atone for my 
former gravity, and open, without trembling, the 
future letters of this sprightly persecutor? To write 
in defence of masquerades is no easy task ; yet some- 
thing difficult and daring may well be required, as 
the price of so important an approbation. I there- 
fore consulted, in this great emergency, a man of 
high reputation in gay life, who having added to 
his other accomplishments no mean proficiency in 
the miiuite i)hilosophy, after the fifth perusal of her 
letter, broke out with rapture into tliese words: 
' And can you, Mr. Rambler, stand out against this 
charming creature? let her know, at least, that from 
this moment Nigrinus devotes his life and his labours 
to her service. Is there any stubborn prejudice of 
education, that stands between thee and the most 
amiable of mankind? Behold, Flirtilla, at thy feet, 

122 RAMBLER. NO. 10. 

a man grown gray in the study of those noble arts 
by which right and wrong may be confounded ; by 
which reason may be blinded, when we have a mind 
to escape from her inspection ; and caprice and ap- 
petite instated in uncontrolled command and bound- 
less dominion ! Such a casuist may surely engage, 
with certainty of success, in vindication of an enter- 
tainment, which in an instant gives confidence to the 
timorous, and kindless ardour in the cold ; an enter- 
tainment where the vigilance of jealousy has so often 
been eluded, and the virgin is set free from the ne- 
cessity of languishing in silence ; where all the out- 
works of chastity are at once demolished ; where the 
heart is laid open without a blush ; where bash- 
fulness may survive virtue, and no wish is crushed 
under the frown of modesty. Far weaker infiuence 
than Flirtilla's might gain over an advocate for such 
amusements. It was declared by Pompey, that, if 
the commonwealth was violated, he could stamp 
with his foot, and raise an army out of the ground ; 
if the rights of pleasure are again invaded, let but 
Flirtilla crack her fan ; neither pens, nor swords, 
shall be wanting at the summons ; the wit and the 
colonel shall march out at her command, and neither 
law nor reason shall stand before us.' 

NO. 11. BAMBLER. 123 

No. 11. TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 1750. 

Non Dlndymene, non ndytis quntit 
Mcntem sactrc/uttim incola Pytliiiis, 
Non Liber ceque, non acuta 
Sic ffeminant Corybantes CBi'a, 

Tristes ut ivce. — hor. car. i. 16. 5. 

Yet oh ! remember, nor the god of wine, 

Nor Pytliian Phoebus from his inmost shrine, 

Nor Dintlyraene, nor her priests possest. 

Can with their sounding cymbals shake the breast. 

Like furious anger. francis. 

The maxim which Periander, of Corinth, one of 
the seven sages of Greece, left as a memorial of his 
knowledge and benevolence, was x^^^ov Kpurei, ' Be 
master of thy anger.' He considered anger as the 
great disturber of human life, the chief enemy 
both of public hap[)iness and private tranquillity, 
and thougiit tluit he could not lay on posterity a 
stronger obligation to reverence his memory, than 
by leaving them a salutary caution against this out- 
rageous passion. 

To what latitude Periander misrht extend the 
word, tlie brevity of his precept will scarce allow us 
to conjecture. From anger, in its full import, j)ro- 
tracted into malevolence, and exerted in revenge, 
arise, indeed, many of the evils to which the life of 
man is exposed. By anger operating upon power 
are prc^luced the subversion of cities, the desola- 
tion of countries, the massacre of nations, and all 
those dreadful and astonishing calamities whicii till 
the histories of the world, and which could not be 

124 RAMBLER. NO. 11. 

read at any distant point of time, when the passions 
stand neutral, and every motive and principle is left 
to its natural force, without some doubt of the truth 
of the relation, did we not see the same causes still 
tending to the same effects, and only acting with 
less vigour for want of the same concurrent oppor- 

But this gigantic and enormous species of anger 
falls not properly under the animadversion of a 
writer, whose chief end is the regulation of common 
life, and whose precepts are to recommend them- 
selves by their general use. Nor is this essay in- 
tended to expose the tragical or fatal effects even 
of private malignity. The anger which I propose 
now for my subject is such as makes those who in- 
dulge it more troublesome than formidable, and 
ranks them rather with hornets and wasps, than 
with basilisks and lions. I have, therefore, prefixed 
a motto which characterizes this passion, not so 
much by the mischief that it causes, as by the noise 
that it utters. 

There is in the world a certain class of mortals, 
known, and contentedly known, by the appellation 
of passionate men, who imagine themselves entitled 
by that distinction to be provoked on every slight 
occasion, and to vent their rage in vehement and 
fierce vociferations, in furious menaces and licentious 
reproaches. Their rage, indeed, for the most part, 
fumes away in outcries of injury and protestations 
of vengeance, and seldom proceeds to actual violence, 
unless a drawer or link-boy falls in their way ; but 
they interrupt the quiet of those that happen to 
be within the reach of their clamours, obstruct the 
course of conversation, and disturb the enjoyment 
of society. 

Men of this kind are sometimes not without un- 

NO. 11. KAMBLER. 125 

derstanding or virtue, and are, therefore, not always 
treated with the severity which their neglect of the 
ease of all about them might justly provoke ; they 
have obtained a kind of prescription for their folly, 
and are considered by their companions as under a 
I)redominant influence that leaves them not masters 
of their conduct or language, as acting without con- 
sciousness, and rushing into mischief with a mist 
before their eyes ; they are, therefore, pitied rather 
than censured, and their sallies are passed over as 
the involuntary blows of a man agitated by the 
s{)asms of a convulsion. 

It is surelv not to be observed without indiojnation, 
that men mav be found of minds mean enou^^h to 
be satisfied with this treatment ; wretches who are 
proud to obtain the privilege of madmen, and can, 
without shame, and without regret, consider them- 
selves, as receiving hourly pardons from their com- 
panions, and giving them continual opportunities 
of exercising their patience, and boasting their 

Pride is, undoubtedly, the original of anger; but 
})ride, like every other passion, if it once breaks 
loose from reason, counteracts its own purposes. A 
passionate man, upon the review of his day, will 
have very few gratifications to offer to his pride, 
when he has considered how his outrages were 
caused, why they were borne, and in what they are 
likely to end at last. 

Tliose sudden bursts of rage generally break out 
upon small occasions ; for life, unhappy as it is, can- 
not supply great evils as frequently as the nlan of 
fire thinks it fit to be enraged ; therefore, the first 
refiection upon his violence must show him that he 
is mean enough to be driven from iiis [jost by every 
petty incident, tiiat he is the mere slave of casualty, 

126 RAMBLER. NO. 11. 

and that his reason and virtue are in the power of 
the wind. 

One motive there is of these loud extravagances, 
which a man is careful to conceal from others, and 
does not always discover to himself. He that finds 
his knowledge narrow, and his arguments weak, and 
by consequence his suffrage not much regarded, is 
sometimes in hope of gaining that attention, by his 
clamours, which he cannot otherwise obtain, and is 
pleased with remembering that at least he made 
himself heard, that he had the power to interrupt 
those whom he could not confute, and suspend the 
decision which he could not guide. 

Of this kind is the fury to which many men give 
way among their servants and domestics ; they feel 
their own ignorance, they see their own insigni- 
ficance, and, therefore, they endeavour, by their 
fury, to fright away contempt from before them, 
when they know it must follow them behind ; and 
think themselves eminently masters, when they see 
one folly tamely complied with, only lest refusal or 
delay should provoke them to a greater. 

These temptations cannot but be owned to have 
some force. It is so little pleasing to any man to 
see himself wholly overlooked in the mass of things, 
that he may be allowed to try a few expedients for 
procuring some kind of supplemental dignity, and 
use some endeavour to add weight, by the violence 
of his temper, to the lightness of his other powers. 
But this has now been long practised, and found, 
upon the most exact estimate, not to produce advan- 
tages equal to its inconveniences ; for it appears not 
that a man can by uproar, tumult, and bluster, alter 
any one's opinion of his understanding, or gain in- 
fluence except over those whom fortune or nature 
have made his dependents. He may, by a steady 

NO. 11. RAMBLER. 127 

perseverance in his ferocity, fright Iiis children and 
harass his servants, but the rest of the world will 
look on and lauah ; and he will have the comfort at 
last of thinking, that he lives only to raise contempt 
and hatred, emotions to which wisdom and virtue 
would be always unwilling to give occasion. lie 
has contrived only to make those fear him, whom 
every reasonable being is endeavouring to endear 
by kindness, and must content himself with the 
pleasure of a triumph obtained by trampling on 
them who could not resist. He must perceive that 
the apprehension which his presence causes is not 
the awe of his virtue, but the dread of his bru- 
tality, and that he has given up the felicity of 
being loved, without gaining the honour of being 

But this is not the only ill consequence of the fre- 
quent indulgence of this blustering passion, which a 
man, by often calling to his assistance, will teach, in 
a short time, to intrude before the summons, to rush 
upon him with resistless violence, and without any 
previous notice of its approach. He will find him- 
self lialjle to be inflamed at the first touch of provo- 
cation, and unable to retain his resentment till he 
has a full conviction of the offence, to proportion his 
anger to the cause, or to regulate it by prudence or 
by duty. When a man has once suffered his mind 
to be thus vitiated, he becomes one of the most 
hateful and unhappy beings. He can give no secur- 
itv to himself that he shall not, at the next inter- 
view, alienate by some sudden transport his dearest 
friend; or break out, upon some slight contradiction, 
into such terms of rudeness as can never be j)erfectly 
forgotten. Whoever converses with him, lives with 
the sus[)icion and solicitude of a man that plays with 
a tame tiger, always under a necessity of watching 

128 RAMBLER. NO. 11. 

the moment in which the capricious savage shall 
begin to growl. 

It is told by Prior, in a panegyric on the Earl of 
Dorset, that his servants used to put themselves in 
his way when he was angry, because he was sure 
to recompense them for any indignities which he 
made them suffer. This is the round of a pas- 
sionate man's life ; he contracts debts when he is 
furious, which his virtue, if he has virtue, obliges 
him to discharge at the return of reason. He spends 
his time in outrage and acknowledgment, injury and 
reparation. Or, if there be any w^ho hardens him- 
self in oppression, and justifies the wrong, because 
he has done it, his insensibility can make small part 
of his praise, or his happiness ; he only adds delib- 
erate to hasty folly, aggravates petulance by con- 
tumacy, and destroys the only plea that he can offer 
for the tenderness and patience of mankind. 

Yet, even this degree of depravity w^e may be con- 
tent to pity, because it seldom wants a punishment 
equal to its guilt. Nothing is more despicable or 
more miserable than the old age of a passionate man. 
"When the vigour of youth fails him, and his amuse- 
ments pall with frequent repetition, his occasional 
rage sinks by decay of strength into peevishness ; that 
peevishness, for want of novelty and variety, becomes 
habitual ; the w^orld falls off from around him ; and he 
is left, as Homer expresses it, (i)tvv^uv (piTiov ktjp, to 
devour his own heart in solitude and contempt. 

NO. 12. RAMBLER. 129 

No. 12. SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 1750. 

— Miserum pared stipe focilat, ut pudibundos 

Exercere sales inter convivia possit. — 

— Tu mitis, et acri 

Asperitate carens, posiioque per omnia Jasiu, 

Inter ut cequales unus numeraris amicos, 

Obsequiunique doces, et amorem quceris amando. 


Unlike the ribald, -whose licentious jest 

Pollutes his banquet, and insults his guest; 

From wealth and grandeur easy to descend, 

Thou joy'st to lose the master in the friend: 

We round thy board the cheerful menials see, 

Gay with the smile of bland equality; 

No social care the gracious lord disdains, 

Love prompts to love, and reverence reverence gains. 

" SIR, 

" As you seem to have devoted your labours to 
virtue, I cannot forbear to inform you of one species 
of cruelty with which the life of a man of letters, 
perhaps, does not often make him acquainted ; and 
whicli^ as it seems to produce no other advantage to 
those that practise it than a short gratification of 
thoughtless vanity, may become less common when 
it has been once exposed in its various forms, and 
its full magnitude. 

" I am the daugliter of a country gentleman, whose 
family is numerous, and whose estate, not at first 
sutficient to supply us with affluence, has been lately 
so much impaired by an unsuccessful lawsuit-, that 
all the younger children are obliged to try such 

VOL. XVI. 9 

130 RAMBLER. . NO. 12. 

means as their education affords them, for procuring 
the necessaries of life. Distress and curiosity con- 
curred to bring me to London, where I was received 
by a relation with the coldness which misfortune 
generally finds. A week, a long week, I lived with 
my cousin, before the most vigilant inquiry could 
procure us the least hopes of a place, in which time 
I was much better qualified to bear all the vexations 
of servitude. The first two days she was content 
to pity me, and only wished I had not been quite so 
well bred; but people must comply with their cir- 
cumstances. This lenity, however, was soon at an 
end ; and, for the remaining part of the week, I 
heard every hour of the pride of my family, the 
obstinacy of my father, and of people better born 
than myself that were common servants. 

" At last, on Saturday noon, she told me, with 
very visible satisfaction, that Mrs. Bombasine, the 
great silk -mercer's lady, wanted a maid, and a fine 
place it would be, for there would be nothing to do 
but to clean my mistress's room, get up her linen, 
dress the young ladies, wait at tea in the morning, 
take care of a little miss just come from nurse, and 
then sit down to my needle. But madam was a 
woman of great spirit, and would not be contradicted, 
and therefore I should take care, for good places 
were not easily to be got. 

" With these cautions I waited on Madam Bom- 
basine, of whom the first sight gave me no ravish- 
ing ideas. She was two yards round the waist, her 
voice was at once loud and squeaking, and her face 
brought to my mind the picture of the full moon. 
Are you the young woman, says she, that are come 
to offer yourself? It is strange when people of sub- 
stance want a servant, how soon it is the towntalk. 
But they know they shall have a bellyful! that live 

NO. 12. RAMBLER. 131 

with me. Not like people at the other end of the 
town, we dine at one o'clock. But I never take 
anybody without a character; what friends do you 
come of? I then told her that my father was a gen- 
tleman, and that we had been unfortunate. — A great 
misfortune, indeed, to come to me, and have three 
meals a-day ! — So your father was a gentleman, and 
you are a gentlewoman I suppose — such gentle- 
women ! — Madam, I did not mean to claim any 
exemptions, I only answered your inquiry. — Such 
gentlewomen! people should set their children to 
good trades, and keep them off the parish. Pray, 
go to the other end of the town, there are gentle- 
women, if they would pay their debts : I am sure we 
Iiave lost enough by gentlewomen. Upon this, her 
broad face grew broader with triumph, and I was 
afraid she would have taken me for the pleasure of 
continuing her insult ; but, happily, the next word 
was Pray, Mrs. Gentlewoman, troop down stairs. 
You may believe I obeyed her. 

" I returned and met with a better reception from 
my cousin than I expected ; for while I was out, she 
had heard that Mrs. Standish, whose husband had 
lately been raised from a clerk in an otUce, to be a 
commissioner of the excise, had taken a tine house, 
and wanted a maid. 

"To Mrs. Standish I went, and, after having 
waited six hours, was at last admitted to the top of 
the stairs, when she came out of her room with two 
of her company. There was a smell of punch. So, 
young woman, you want a jjlace, whence do you 
come ? From the country, madam. — Yes, they all 
come out of the country. And what brought you 
to town ? a bastard ? where do you lodge ? at the 
Seven-Dials? What, you never heard of the found- 
ling-house ! Upon this, they all laughed so obstrep- 

132 RAMBLER. NO. 12. 

erously, that I took the opportunity of sneaking off 
in the tumult. 

" I then heard of a place at an elderly lady's. She 
was at cards ; but, in two hours, I was told, she 
would speak to me. She asked me if I could keep 
an account, and ordered me to write. I wrote two 
lines out of some book that lay by her. She won- 
dered what people meant, to breed up poor girls to 
write at that rate. I suppose, Mrs. Flirt, if I was 
to see your work, it would be fine stuff! — You may 
walk. I will not have love-letters written from my 
house to every young fellow in the street. 

" Two days after, I went on the same pursuit to 
Lady Lofty, dressed, as I was directed, in what little 
ornaments I had, because she had lately got a place 
at court. Upon the first sight of me, she turns to 
the woman that showed me in, is this the lady that 
wants a place ? Pray, what place would you have, 
Miss ? a maid of honour's place ? Servants nowa- 
days ! — Madam, I heard you wanted — Wanted what 
— Somebody finer than myself! A pretty servant, 
indeed — I should be afraid to speak to her — I sup- 
pose, Mrs. Minx, these fine hands cannot bear wet- 
ting — A servant, indeed ! Pray, move off — I am 

resolved to be the head person in this house. 

You are ready dress'd, the taverns will be open. 

" I went to inquire for the next place in a clean 
linen gown, and heard the servant tell his lady, there 
was a young woman, but he saw she would not do. 
I was brought up, however. Are you the trollop 
that has the impudence to come for my place ? 
What, you have hired that nasty gown, and are 
come to steal a better ! — Madam, I have another, but 
being obliged to walk — Then these are your man- 
ners, with your blushes, and your courtesies, to come 
to me in your worst gown. — Madam, give me leave 

NO. 12. RAMBLER. 133 

to wait upon you in my other. — Wait on me, you 
saucy slut ! Then you are sure of coming — I could 
not let such a drab come near me — Here, you girl, 
that came up with her, have you touched her? If 
you liave, wash your hands before you dress me — 
Such trollops ! Get you down. What, whimpering? 
Pray walk. 

" I went away with tears ; for my cousin had lost 
all patience. However, she told me that, having a 
respect for my relations, she was willing to keep 
me out of the street, and would let me have another 

" The first day of this week I saw two places. At 
one, I was asked where I had lived ? And upon my 
answer, was told by the lady, that people should 
qualify themselves in ordinary places, for she should 
never have done if she was to follow girls about. 
At the other house, I was a smirking hussy, and that 
sweet face I might make money of — For her part, it 
was a rule with her never to take any creature that 
thought herself handsome. 

" The three next days were spent in Lady Bluff's 
entry, where I waited six hours every day for the 
pleasure of seeing the servants peep at me, and go 

awav lauo^hintT Madam will stretch her small 

shanks in the entry ; she will know the house 

again. At sunset the first two days, I was told 

that my lady would see me to-morrow, and on the 
third, that her woman stayed. 

" My week was now near its end, and I had no 
hopes of a place. My relation, who always laid 
upon me the blame of every miscarriage, told me 
that I must learn to humble myself, and that all 
great ladies had particular ways ; and if I went on 
in that manner, she could not tell who would keep 
me ; she had known many who had refused places, 
sell their clothes, and beg iu the streets. 

134 RAMBLER. NO. 12. 

" It was to no purpose that the refusal was de- 
clared by me to be never on my side ; I was reason- 
ing agahist interest, and against stupidity; and 
therefore I comforted myself with the hope of suc- 
ceeding better in my next attempt, and went to Mrs. 
Courtly, a very fine lady, who had routs at her house, 
and saw the best company in town. 

" I had not waited two hours before I was called 
up, and found Mr. Courtly and his lady at piquet, 
in the height of good-humour. This I looked on as 
a favourable sign, and stood at the lower end of the 
room in expectation of the common questions. At 
last, Mr. Courtly called out, after a whisper, Stand 
facing the light, that one may see you. I changed 
my place, and blushed. They frequently turned 
their eyes upon me, and seemed to discover many 
subjects of merriment ; for at every look they whis- 
pered, and laughed with the most violent agitations 
of delight. At last, Mr. Courtly cried out. Is that 
colour your own, child? Yes, says the lady, if she 
has not robbed the kitchen hearth. This was so 
happy a conceit, that it renewed the storm of laugh- 
ter, and they threw down their cards in hopes of 
better sport. The lady then called me to her, and 
began with an affected gravity to inquire what I 
could do ? But first turn about, and let us see your 
fine shape : Well, what are you fit for, Mrs. Mum ? 
You would find your tongue, I suppose, in the 
kitchen. No, no, says Mr. Courtly, the girl's a good 
girl yet, but I am afraid a brisk young fellow, with 
fine tags on his shoulder — Come, child, hold up your 

head; what? you have stole nothing Not yet, 

says the lady, but she hopes to steal your heart 
quickly — Here was a laugh of happiness and tri- 
umph, prolonged by the confusion which I could no 
longer repress. At last, the lady recollected her- 

NO. 12. RAMBLER. 135 

self: Stole? no — but if I luid her, I should watch 
her ; for thiit downcast eye — Why cannot you look 
people in the face ? — Steal ! says her husband, she 
would steal nothing but, perhaps, a few ribbons be- 
fore they were left off by her lady. — Sir, answered 
I, why should you, by supposing me a thief, insult 
one from whom you have received no injury? — In- 
sult, says the lady ; are you come here to be a servant, 
you saucy baggage, and talk of insulting ? What will 
this world come to, if a gentleman may not jest with 
a servant ? Well, such servants ! pray be gone, and 
see when you will have the honour to be so insulted 
again. Servants insulted — a fine time. Insulted 1 
get down stairs, you slut, or the footman shall insult 

" The last day of the last week was now coming, 
and my kind cousin talked of sending me down in 
the wagon to preserve me from bad courses. But 
in the morning she came and told me that she had 
one trial more for me ; Euphemia wanted a maid, 
and perliaps I might do for her; for, like me, she 
must fall her crest, being forced to lay down her 
chariot upon the loss of half her fortune by bad 
securities, and, with her way of giving her money to 
everybody that pretended to want it, she could have 
little beforehand; therefore I might serve her ; for, 
with all her fine sense, she must not pretend to 
be nice. 

" I went immediately, and met at the door a young 
gentlewoman, who told me she had herself been 
hired that morning, but that she was ordered to bring 
any that offered up stairs. I was accordingly intro- 
duced to Euphemia, who, when I came in, laid down 
her book, and told me, that she sent for me not to 
gratify an idle curiosity, but lest my disappointment 
might be made still more grating by incivility ; that 

136 RAMBLER. NO. 13. 

she was in pain to deny any thing, much more what 
was no favour ; that she saw nothing in my appear- 
ance which did not make her wish for my company ; 
but that another, whose claims might perhaps be 
equal, had come before me. The thought of being 
so near to such a place, and missing it, brought tears 
into my eyes, and my sobs hindered me from return- 
ing my acknowledgments. She rose up confused, 
and supposing by my concern that I was distressed, 
placed me by her, and made me tell her my story ; 
which, when she had heard, she put two guineas in 
my hand, ordering me to lodge near her, and make 
use of her table till she could provide for me. I am 
now under her protection, and know not how to 
show my gratitude better than by giving this account 
to The Rambler. 


No. 13. TUESDAY, MAY 1, 1750. 

Commissumque teges, et vino tortus et ird. 

HOK. EPIST. i. 18. 39. 

And let not wine or anger wrest 

Th.' intrusted secret from your breast. fkancis. 

It is related by Quintus Curtius, that the Per- 
sians always conceived an invincible contempt of a 
man who had violated the laws of secrecy ; for they 
thought, that, however he might be deficient in the 
qualities requisite to actual excellence, the negative 
virtues at least were in his power, and though he 

NO. 13. RAMBLER. 137 

perhaps, could not speak well if he was to try, it was 
still easy for him not to speak. 

In forming this opinion of the easiness of secrecy, 
they seem to have considered it as opposed, not to 
treachery, but loquacity, and to have conceived the 
man, whom they thus censured, not frighted by men- 
aces to reveal, or bribed by promises to betray, but 
incited by the mere pleasure of talking, or some 
other motive equally trifling, to lay open his heart 
without reflection, and to let whatever he knew slip 
from him only for want of power to retain it. Whe- 
ther, by their settled and avowed scorn of thought- 
less talker^ the Persians were able to diffuse, to any 
great extent, the virtue of taciturnity, we are hin- 
dered by the distance of those times from being able 
to discover, there being very few memoirs remaining 
of the court of Persepolis, nor any distinct accounts 
handed down to us of their ofiice clerks, their ladies 
of the bedchamber, their attorneys, their chamber- 
maids, or their footmen. 

In these latter ages, though the old animosity 
against a prattler is still retained, it appears wholly 
to have lost its effects upon the conduct of man- 
kind ; for secrets are so seldom kept, that it may 
with some reason be doubted, whether the ancients 
were not mistaken in their first postulate, whether 
the quality of retention be so generally bestowed, 
and wiicther a secret has not some subtle volatility, 
by which it escapes imperceptibly at the smallest 
vent, or some power of fermentation, by which it 
expands itself so as to burst the heart that will not 
give it way. 

Those that study either the body or the mind of 
man, very often And the most specious and [)leasing 
theory falling under the weight of contrary experi- 
ence ; and, instead of gratifying their vanity by in- 

138 RAMBLER. NO. 13. 

ferring effects from causes, they are always reduced 
at last to conjecture causes from effects. That it is 
easy to be secret, the speculatist can demonstrate in 
his retreat, and therefore thinks himself justified in 
placing confidence ; the man of the world knows, 
that, whether difficult or not, it is uncommon, and 
therefore finds himself rather inclined to search 
after the reason of this universal failure in one of 
the most important duties of society. 

The vanity of being known to be trusted with a 
secret is generally one of the chief motives to dis- 
close it ; for, however absurd it may be thought to 
boast an honour by an act which shows that it was 
conferred without merit, yet most men seem rather 
inclined to confess the want of virtue than of impor- 
tance, and more willingly show their influence, though 
at the expense of their probity, than glide through 
life with no other pleasure than the private con- 
sciousness of fidelity ; which, while it is preserved, 
must be without praise, except from the single per- 
son who tries and knows it. 

There are many ways of telling a secret, by which 
a man exempts himself from the reproaches of his 
conscience, and gratifies his pride, without suffering 
himself to believe that he impairs his virtue. He 
tells the private affairs of his patron, or his friend, 
only to those from whom he would not conceal his 
own ; he tells them to those, who have no tempta- 
tion to betray the trust, or with a denunciation of a 
certain forfeiture of his friendship, if he discovers 
that they become public. 

Secrets are very frequently told in the first ardour 
of kindness, or of love, for the sake of proving, by 
so important a sacrifice, sincerity or tenderness ; but 
with this motive, though it be strong in itself, van- 
ity concurs, since every man desires to be most 

NO. 13. RAMBLER. 130 

esteemed by those whom he loves, or with whom 
be converses, with whom he passes his hours ot 
pleasure, and to whom he retires from busmess and 

from care. . ^ . , 

When the discovery of secrets is under considera- 
tion, there is always a distinction carefully to be 
made between our own and those ot another ; those 
of whicli we are fully masters as they affect only 
our own interest, and those which are reposited 
with us in trust, and involve the happiness or con- 
venience of such as we have no right to expose to 
hazard To tell our own secrets is generally tolly, 
but that folly is without guilt; to communicate 
those with which we are intrusted is always treach- 
ery; and treachery, for the most part, combmed 

with folly. . . . „,^ 1 

There have, indeed, been some enthusiastic and 

irrational zealots for friendship, who have main- 
tained and perhaps believed, that one fnend has a 
ricrht to all that is in possession of another ; and that 
th^erefore it is a violation of kindness to exempt any 
secret from this boundless confidence. Accordingly, 
a late female minister of state has been shameless 
enou-h to inform the world, that she used, when she 
wanted to extract any thing from her sovereign, to 
remind her of Montaigne's reasoning, who has de- 
termined, that to tell a secret to a friend is no breach 
of fidelity, because the number of persons trusted is 
not multiplied, a man and his friend being virtually 

the same. , 

That such a fallacy could be imposed upon any 
human understanding, or that an author could have 
advanccHl a position so remote from truth and rea- 
son, any other ways than as a declaimer, to show to 
what extent he could stretch his imagination, and 
with what strength he could press his principle, 

140 RAMBLER. NO. 13. 

would scarcely have been credible, had not this lady 
kindly shown us how far weakness may be deluded, 
or indolence amused. But since it appears, that 
even this sophistry has been able, with the help of 
a strong desire to repose in quiet upon the under- 
standing of another, to mislead honest intentions, and 
an understanding not contemptible, it may not be 
superfluous to remark, that those things which are 
common among friends are only such as either pos- 
sesses in his own right, and can alienate or destroy 
without injury to any other person. Without this 
limitation, confidence must run on without end, the 
second person may tell the secret to the third, upon 
the same principle as he received it from the first, 
and the third may hand it forward to a fourth, 
till at last it is told in the round of friendship to 
them from whom it was the first intention to con- 
ceal it. 

The confidence which Caius has of the faithful- 
ness of Titius is nothing more than an opinion which 
himself cannot know to be true, and which Claudius, 
who first tells his secret to Caius, may know to be 
false ; and therefore the trust is transferred by Caius, 
if he reveal what has been told him, to one from 
whom the person originally concerned would have 
withheld it ; and whatever may be the event, Caius 
has hazarded the happiness of his friend, without 
necessity and without permission, and has put that 
trust in the hand of fortune which was given only 
to virtue. 

All the arguments upon which a man who is 
telling the private affairs of another may ground his 
confidence of security, he must, upon reflection, know 
to be uncertain, because he finds them without effect 
upon himself When he is imagining that Titius 
will be cautious from a regard to his interest, his 

NO. 13. RAMBLER. 141 

reputation, or his duty, he ought to reflect that he 
is himself at that instant acting in opposition to all 
these reasons, and revealing what interest, reputa- 
tion, and duty, direct him to conceal. 

Every one feels that in his own case he should 
consider the man incapable of trust, who believed 
himself at liberty to tell whatever he knew to the 
first whom he should conclude deserving of his con- 
fidence ; therefore Caius, in admitting Titius to the 
affairs imparted only to himself, must know that he 
violates his faith, since he acts contrary to the inten- 
tion of Claudius, to whom that faith was given. For 
promises of friendship are, like all others, useless 
and vain, unless they are made in some known 
sense, adjusted and acknowledged by both parties. 

I am not ignorant that many questions may be 
started relating to the duty of secrecy, where the 
affairs are of public concern ; where subsequent rea- 
sons may arise to alter the appearance and nature 
of the trust ; that the manner in which the secret 
was told may change the degree of obligation ; and 
that the principles upon which a man is chosen for 
a confidant may not always equally constrain him. 
But these scruples, if not too intricate, are of too 
extensive consideration for my present purpose, nor 
are they such as generally occur in common life ; 
and though casuistical knowledge be useful in proper 
hands, yet it ought by no means to be carelessly 
exposed, since most will use it rather to lull than 
awaken their own consciences ; and the threads of 
reasoning, on which truth is suspended, are fre- 
quently drawn to such subtility, that common eyes 
cannot perceive, and common sensibility cannot feel 

The whole doctrine, as well as practice of secrecy, 
is so perplexing and dangerous, that, next to him 

142 RAMBLER. NO. 13. 

who is compelled to trust, I think him unhappy who 
is chosen to be trusted ; for he is often involved in 
scruples without the liberty of calling in the help of 
any other understanding; he is frequently drawn 
into guilt, under the appearance of friendship and 
honesty ; and sometimes subjected to suspicion by 
the treachery of others, who are engaged without 
his knowledge in the same schemes ; for he that has 
one confidant has generally more, and when he is 
at last betrayed, is in doubt on whom he shall fix 
the crime. 

The rules, therefore, that I shall propose con- 
cerning secrecy, and from which I think it not safe 
to deviate, without long and exact deliberation, 
are : Never to solicit the knowledge of a secret. 
Not willingly, nor without many limitations, to ac- 
cept such confidence when it is offered. When a 
secret is once admitted, to consider the trust as of a 
very high nature, important as society, and sacred 
as truth, and therefore not to be violated for any 
incidental convenience, or slight appearance of con- 
trary fitness. 

NO. 14. RAMBLER. 143 

No. 14. SATURDAY, MAY 5, 1750. 

— Nil fuit unquam 
Sic dispar sibi. — 

Sure such a various creature ne'er was known. 


Among the many inconsistencies which folly pro- 
duces or infirmity suffers in the human mind, there 
has often been observed a manifest and striking 
contrariety between the life of an author and his 
writings ; and Milton, in a letter to a learned stranger 
by whom he had been visited, with great reason 
congratulates himself upon the consciousness of 
being found equal to his own character, and having 
preserved, in a private and familiar interview, that 
reputation which his works had procured him. 

Those whom the appearance of virtue, or the evi- 
dence of genius, have tempted to a nearer knowledge 
of the writer in whose performances they may be 
found, have, indeed, had frequent reason to repent 
their curiosity ; the bubble that sparkled before them 
has become common water at the touch; the phan- 
tom of perfection has vanished when they wished to 
press it to their bosom. They have lost the pleasure 
of imagining how far humanity may be exalted, and, 
perhaps, felt themselves less inclined to toil up the 
steeps of virtue, when they observe those who 
seem best able to point the way, loitering below, 
as either afraid of the labour, or doubtful of the 

144 ' RAMBLER. NO. 14. 

It has been long the custom of the oriental mon- 
archs to hide themselves in gardens and palaces, 
to avoid the conversation of mankind, and to be 
known to their subjects only by their edicts. The 
same policy is no less necessary to him that writes, 
than to him that governs ; for men would not more 
patiently submit to be taught, than commanded, by 
one known to have the same follies and weaknesses 
with themselves. A sudden intruder into the closet 
of an author, would, perhaps, feel equal indignation 
with the officer, who having long solicited admission 
into the presence of Sardanapalus, saw him not con- 
sulting upon laws, inquiring into grievances, or 
modelling armies, but employed in feminine amuse- 
ments, and directing the ladies in their work. 

It is not difficult to conceive, however, that for 
many reasons a man writes much better than he 
lives. For, without entering into refined specula- 
tions, it may be shown much easier to design than 
to perform. A man proposes his schemes of life in 
a state of abstraction and disengagement, exempt 
from the enticements of hope, the solicitations of 
affection, the importunities of appetite, or the de- 
pressions of fear ; and is in the same state with him 
that teaches upon land the art of navigation, to 
whom the sea is always smooth, and the wind always 

The mathematicians are well acquainted with the 
difference between pure science, which has to do 
only with ideas, and the application of its laws to 
the use of life, in which they are constrained to sub- 
mit to the imperfection of matter and the influence 
of accidents. Thus, in moral discussions, it is to be 
remembered that many impediments obstruct our 
practice, which very easily give way to theory. The 
speculatist is only in danger of erroneous reasoning, 

NO. 14. RAMBLER. 145 

but the man involved in life has his own passions, 
and those of others, to encounter, and is embarrassed 
with a thousand inconveniences, which confound 
him with variety of impulse, and either perplex or 
obstruct his way. He is forced to act without delib- 
eration, and obliged to choose before he can exam- 
ine ; he is surprised by sudden alterations of the 
state of things, and changes his measures according 
to superficial appearances ; he is led by others,, 
either because he is indolent, or because he is 
timorous ; he is sometimes afraid to know what is 
right, and sometimes finds friends or enemies diligent* 
to deceive him. 

We are, therefore, not to wonder that most fail, 
amidst tumult, and snares, and danger, in the ob- 
servance of those precepts, which they lay down in 
solitude, safety, and tranquillity, with a mind un- 
biased, and with liberty unobstructed. It is the 
condition of our present state to see more than we 
can attain ; the exactest vigilance and caution can 
never maintain a single day of unmingled innocence, 
much less can the utmost effbrts of incorporated 
mind reach the summits of speculative virtue. 

It is, however, necessary for the idea of perfec- 
tion to be proposed, that we may have some object 
to which our endeavours are to be directed ; and he 
that is most deficient in the duties of life, makes 
some atonement for his faults, if he warns others 
against his own failings, and hinders, by the salu- 
brity of his admonitions, the contagion of his ex- 

Nothing is more unjust, however common, than 
to cliarge with liypocrisy him that expresses zeal 
for those virtues which he neglects to practise ; since 
he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of 
conquering his passions, witliout having yet obtained 

VOL. XVI. 10 

14.6 RAMBLER. NO. li. 

the victory, as a man may be confident of the ad- 
vantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having 
courage or industry to undertake it, and may hon- 
estly recommend to others, those attempts which 
he neglects himself. 

The interest which the corrupt part of mankind . 
have in hardening themselves against every motive 
to amendment, has disposed them to give to these 
contradiction, when they can be produced against 
the cause of virtue, that weight which they will not 
allow them in any other case. They see men act 
in opposition to their interest, without supposing 
that they do not know it ; those who give way to the 
sudden violence of passion, and forsake the most 
important pursuits for petty pleasures, are not sup- 
posed to have changed their opinions, or to approve 
their own conduct. In moral or religious questions 
alone they determine the sentiments by the actions, 
and charge every man with endeavouring to impose 
upon the world, whose writings are not confirmed 
by his life. They never consider that themselves 
neglect or practise something every day inconsist- 
ently with their own settled judgment, nor discover 
that the conduct of the advocates for virtue can little 
increase, or lessen, the obligations of their dictates ; 
argument is to be invalidated only by argument, 
and is in itself of the same force, whether or not it 
convinces him by whom it is proposed. 

Yet since this prejudice, however unreasonable, 
is always likely to have some prevalence, it is the 
duty of every man to take care lest he should hinder 
the efficacy of his own instructions. When he de- 
sires to gain the belief of others, he should show that 
he believes himself; and when he teaches the fitness 
of virtue by his reasonings, he should, by his ex- 
ample, prove its possibility ; thus much at least may 

NO. 14. RAMBLER. 147 

be required of him, that he shall not act worse than 
others because he writes better, nor imagine that, 
by the merit of his genius, he may claim indulgence 
beyond mortals of the lower classes, and be excused 
for want of prudence, or neglect of virtue. 

Bacon, in his history of the winds, after having 
offered something to the imagination as desirable, 
often proposes lower advantages in its place to the 
reason as attainable. The same method may be 
sometimes pursued in moral endeavours, which this 
philosopher has observed in natural inquiries ; hav- 
ing first set positive and absolute excellence before 
us, we may be pardoned though we sink down to 
humbler virtue, trying, however, to keep our point 
always in view, and struggling not to lose ground, 
though we cannot gain it. 

It is recorded of Sir Matthew Hale, that he, for 
a long time, concealed the consecration of himself 
to the stricter duties of religion, lest, by some flagi- 
tious and shameful action, be should bring piety 
into disgrace. For the same reason it may be 
prudent for a writer, who apprehends that he shall 
not enforce his own maxims by his domestic char- 
acter, to conceal his name, that he may not injure 

There are, indeed, a great number whose curiosity 
to gain a more familiar knowledije of successful 
writers, is not so much prompted by an opinion of 
their power to improve as to delight, and who expect 
from tliem not arguments against vice, or disserta- 
tions on tem[)erance or justice, but flights of wit and 
sallies of pleasantry, or, at least, acute remarks, 
nice distinctions, justness of sentiment, and elegance 
of diction. 

This expectation is, indeed, specious and probable, 
and yet; such is the fate of all human hopes, that it 

148 RAMBLER. NO. 14. 

is very often frustrated, and those who raise admira- 
tion by their books, disgust by their company. A 
man of letters, for the most part, spends in the priva- 
cies of study that season of life in which the manners 
are to be softened into ease, and polished into 
elegance ; and, when he has gained knowledge 
enough to be respected, has neglected the minuter 
acts by which he might have pleased. When he 
enters life, if his temper be soft and timorous, he is 
diffident and bashful, from the knowledge of his 
defects ; or if he was born with spirit and resolution, 
he is ferocious and arrogant, from the consciousness 
of his merit ; he is either dissipated by the awe of 
company, and unable to recollect his reading and 
arrange his arguments ; or he is hot and dogmatical, 
quick in opposition, and tenacious in defence, dis- 
abled by his own violence, and confused by his haste 
to triumph. 

The graces of writing and conversation are of 
different kinds, and though he who excels in one 
might have been, with opportunities and application, 
equally successful in the other, yet as many please 
by extemporary talk, though utterly unacquainted 
with the more accurate method, and more laboured 
beauties, which composition requires ; so it is very 
possible that men, wholly accustomed to works of 
study, may be without that readiness of conception, 
and affluence of language, always necessary to collo- 
quial entertainment. They may want address to 
watch the hints which conversation offers for the 
display of their particular attainments, or they may 
be so much unfurnished with matter on common 
subjects, that discourse not professedly literary 
glides over them as heterogeneous bodies, without 
admitting their conceptions to mix in the circulation. 

A transition from an author's book to his conver- 

NO. 16. RAMBLER. 149 

sation, is too often like an entrance into a large city, 
after a distant prospect. Remotely, we see nothing 
but spires of temples and turrets of palaces, and 
imagine it the residence of splendour, grandeur, and 
magniticence ; but when we have passed the gates, 
we find it perplexed with narrow passages, disgraced 
with despicable cottages, embarrassed with obstruc- 
tions, and clouded with smoke. 

No. 15. TUESDAY, MAY 8, 1750. 

Et qxiando uberior vitiorum copin ? Quando 

Major avaiitice paiuit sinus f Aha quando 

Has amnios f — JUV. SAT. i. 87. 

What age so large a crop of vices bore, 

Or when was avarice extended more? 

When were the dice witli more profusion thrown? 


There is no grievance, public or prirate, of which, 
since I took upon me the office of a periodical moni- 
tor, I have received so many, or so earnest com- 
plaints, as of the predominance of play ; of a fatal 
passion for cards and dice, which seems to have 
overturned, not only the ambition of excellence, 
but the desire of pleasure ; to have extinguished the 
flames of the lover, as well as of the patriot; and 
threatens, in its further progress, to destroy all 
distinctions, both of rank and sex, to crush all emu- 
lation but that of fraud, to corrupt all those classes 
of our people whose ancestors have by their virtue, 

150 RAMBLER. NO. 15. 

their industry, or their parsimony, given thera the 
power of living in extravagance, idleness, and vice, 
and to leave them without knowledge, but of the 
modish games, and without wishes, but for lucky 

I have found, by long experience, that there are 
few enterprises so hopeless as contests with the 
fashion, in which the opponents are not only made 
confident by their numbers and strong by their 
union, but are hardened by contempt for their antag- 
onist, whom they always look upon as a wretch of 
low notions, contracted views, mean conversation, 
and narrow fortune, who envies the elevations which 
he cannot reach, who would gladly imbitter the 
happiness which his inelegance or indigence deny 
' him to partake, and who has no other end in his 
advice, than to revenge his own mortification by 
hindering those whom their birth and taste have set 
above him, from the enjoyment of their superiority, 
and bringing them down to a level with himself. 

Though I have never found myself much affected 
by this formidable censure, which I have incurred 
often enough to be acquainted with its full force, 
yet I shall, in some measure, obviate it on this occa- 
sion by offering very little in my own name, either 
of argument or entreaty, since those who suffer by 
this general infatuation may be supposed best able 
to relate its effects. 

" SIR, 

" There seems to be so little knowledge left in 
the world, and so little of that reflection practised 
by which knowledge is to be gained, that I am in 
doubt whether I shall be understood, when I com- 
plain of want of opportunity for thinking ; or whether 
a condemnation, which at present seems irreversible, 

NO. 15. RAMBLER. 151 

to perpetual ignorance, will raise any compassion, 
either in you or your readers ; yet I will venture to 
lay my state before you, because I believe it is nat- 
ural, to most minds, to take some pleasure in com- 
plaining of evils, of which they have no reason to 
be ashamed. 

" I am the daughter of a man of great fortune, 
whose diffidence of mankind, and, perhaps, the pleas- 
ure of continual accumulation, incline him to reside 
upon his own estate, and to educate his children in 
his own house, where I was bred, if not with the 
most brilliant examples of virtue before my eyes, at 
least remote enough from any incitements to vice ; 
and wanting neither leisure nor books, nor the ac- 
quaintance of some persons of learning in the neigh- 
bourhood, I endeavoured to acquire such knowledge 
as mi2;ht most recommend me to esteem, and thouii-ht 
myself able to support a conversation upon most of 
the subjects which my sex and condition made it 
proper for me to understand. 

'' I had, besides my knowledge, as my mamma 
and my maid told me, a very fine face, and elegant 
shape, and with all these advantages had been 
seventeen months the rei^'niu'i; toast for twelve 
miles round, and never came to the monthly as- 
sembly, but I heard the old ladies that sat by wish- 
ing tliat it might end well, and their daughters 
criticizing my air, my features, or my dress. 

"You know, Mr. Rambler, that ambition is nat- 
ural to youth, and curiosity to understanding ; and 
therefore will hear, without wonder, that I was de- 
sirous to extend my victories over those who miglit 
give more honour to the conqueror; and tiiat 1 toinid 
in a country life a continual repetition of tlie same 
pleasure, which was not sufficient to 1111 up the mind 
for tlic present, or raise any expectations of the 

152 RAMBLER. NO. 15. 

future ; and I will confess to you, that I was impa- 
tient for a sight of the town, and filled my thoughts 
with the discoveries which I should make, the tri- 
umphs that I should obtain, and the praises that I 
should receive. 

"At last the time came. My aunt, whose hus- 
band has a seat in parliament, and a place at court, 
buried her only child, and sent for me to supply the 
loss. The hope that I should so far insinuate my- 
self into their favour as to obtain a considerable 
augmentation of my fortune, procured me every con- 
venience for my departure, with great expedition ; 
and I could not, amidst all my transports, forbear 
some indignation, to see with what readiness the 
natural guardians of my virtue sold me to a state 
which they thought more hazardous than it really 
was, as soon as a new accession of fortune glittered 
in their eye. 

" Three days I was upon the road, and on the 
fourth morning my heart danced at the sight of 
London. I was set down at my aunt's, and entered 
upon the scene of action. I expected now, from 
the age and experience of my aunt, some prudential 
lessons ; but, after the first civilities and first tears 
were over, was told what pity it was to have kept 
so fine a girl so long in the country ; for the people 
who did not begin young, seldom dealt their cards 
handsomely or played them tolerably. 

" Young persons are commonly inclined to slight 
the remarks and counsels of their elders. I smiled, 
perhaps, with too much contempt, and was upon the 
point of telling her, that my time had not been past 
in such trivial attainments. But I soon found that 
things are to be estimated, not by the importance of 
their elFects, but the frequency of their use. 

" A few days after, my aunt gave me notice, that 

NO. 15. RAMBLER. 153 

some company, which she had been six weeks in col- 
lecting, was to meet that evening, and she expected 
a finer assembly than had been seen all the winter. 
She expressed tkis in the jargon of a gamester, and, 
when I asked an explication of her terms of art, 
wondered where I had lived. I had already found 
my aunt so incapable of any rational conclusion, and 
so ignorant of every thing, whether great or little, 
that I had lost all regard to her opinion, and dressed 
myself with great expectations of opportunity to dis- 
play my charms among rivals, whose competition 
would not dishonour me. The company came in ; 
and, after the cursory compliments of salutation, 
alike easy to the lowest and the highest understand- 
ing, what was the result ? The cards were broke 
open, the parties were formed, the whole night 
passed in a game, upon which the young and old 
were equally employed ; nor was I able to attract 
an eye, or gain an ear ; but being compelled to play 
without skill, I perpetually embarrassed my part- 
ner, and soon perceived the contempt of the whole 
table gathering upon me. 

" I cannot but suspect. Sir, that this odious fash- 
ion is produced by a conspiracy of the old, the 
ugly, and the ignorant, against the young and beau- 
tiful, the witty and the gay, as a contrivance to level 
all distinctions of nature and of art, to confound the 
world in a chaos of folly, to take from those who 
could outshine them all the advantages of mind and 
body, to withhold youth from its natural pleasures, 
deprive wit of its inHuence, and beauty of its charms, 
to fix those hearts upon money, to which love has 
hitherto been entitled, to sink life into a tedious uni- 
formity, and to allow it no other hopes or fears, but 
those of robbinjj, and beinjjr robbed. 

" Be pleased, Sir, to inform those of my sex, who 

154 RAMBLER. NO. 15. 

have minds capable of nobler sentiments, that if they 
■will unite in vindication of their pleasures and their 
prerogatives, they may fix a time, at which cards 
shall cease to be in fashion, or be left only to those 
who have neither beauty to be loved, nor spirit to 
be feared ; neither knowledge to teach, nor modesty 
to learn ; and who, having passed their youth in vice, 
are justly condemned to spend their age in folly. 

" I am. Sir, &c., 

" Cleora." 

" SIR, 

" Vexation will burst my heart if I do not give it 
vent. As you publish a paper, I insist upon it, that 
you insert this in your next, as ever you hope for 
the kindness and encouragement of any woman of 
taste, spirit, and virtue. I would have it published 
to the world, how deserving wives are used by 
imperious coxcombs, that henceforth no woman may 
marry, who has not the patience of Grizzel. Nay, 
if even Grizzel had been married to a gamester, her 
temper would never have held out. A wretch that 
loses his good-humour and humanity along with his 
money, and will not allow enough from his own 
extravagances to support a woman of fashion in the 
necessary amusements of life ! — Why does not he 
emplo}^ his wdse head to make a figure in parlia- 
ment, raise an estate, and get a title ? That would 
be fitter for the master of a family, than rattling a 
noisy dice-box ; and then he might indulge his wife 
in a few slight expenses and elegant diversions. 

" What if I was unfortunate at Brag ? — Should he 
not have stayed to see how luck would turn another 
time ? Instead of that, what does he do, but picks a 
quarrel, upbraids me with loss of beauty, abuses ray 
acquaintance, ridicules my play, and insults my un- 

NO. 15. RAMBLER. 155 

.derstanding ; says, forsooth, tliat women have not 
heads enough to phiy with any thing but dolls, and 
that they should be employed in things proportion- 
able to their understanding, keep at home, and mind 
family affairs. 

" I do stay at home, Sir, and all the world knows T 
am at home every Sunday. I have had six routs this 
winter, and sent out ten packs of cards in invitations 
to private parties. As for management, I am sure 
he cannot call me extravagant, or say I do not mind 
my family. The children are out at nurse in villages, 
as cheap as any two little brats can be kept, nor 
have I ever seen them since ; so he has no trouble 
about them. The servants live at board wages. My 
own dinners come from the Thatched House ; and 
I have never paid a penny for any thing I have 
bought since I was married. As for play, I do 
think I may, indeed, indulge in that, now I am my 
own mistress. Papa made me drudge at whist till 
I was tired of it ; and, far from wanting a head, Mr. 
Hoyle, when he had not given me above forty les- 
sons, said I was one of his best scholars. I thought 
then with myself, that, if once I was at liberty, I 
would leave play, and take to reading romances, 
tilings so forbidden at our house, and so railed at, 
that it was impossible not to fancy them very charm- 
ing. ]Most fortunately, to save me from absolute 
undutifulness, just as I was married, came dear 
Brag into fashion, and ever since it has been the joy 
of my life ; so easy, so cheerful and careless, so 
void of thought, and so genteel ! Who can help lov- 
ino; it? Yet the ijerfidious thinjj has used me very 
ill of late, and to-morrow I siiould have changed it 
for Faro. But, oh ! this detestable to-morrow, a 

thing always expected, and never found. Within 

these few hours must I be dragged into the country. 

156 RAMBLER. NO. 16. 

The wretch, Sir, left me in a fit, which his threaten- 
ings had occasioned, and unmercifully ordered a 
postchaise. Stay I cannot, for money I have none, 

and credit I cannot get But I will make the 

monkey play with me at piquet upon the road for 
all I want. I am almost sure to beat him, and his 
debts of honour I know he will pay. Then who 
can tell but I may still come back and conquer Lady 
Packer? Sir, you need not print this last scheme, 
and, upon second thoughts, you may. Oh, dis- 
traction ! the postchaise is at the door. Sir, publish 
what you will, only let it be printed without a name." 

No. 16. SATURDAY, MAY 12, 1750. 

— Torrens dicendi copia multis, 
Et sua mortifera est facundia. — juv. SAT. x. 9. 

Some who the depths of eloquence have found, 

In that unnavigable stream were drown' d. drtden. 

" SIR, 

" I AM the modest young man whom you favoured 
with your advice, in a late paper ; and, as I am very 
far from suspecting that you foresaw the number- 
less inconveniencies which I have, by following it, 
brought upon myself, I will lay my condition open 
before you ; for you seem bound to extricate me 
from the perplexities, in which your counsel, how- 
ever innocent in the intention, has contributed to 
involve me. 

NO. 16. RAMBLER. 157 

" You told me, as you thought to my comfort, tliat 
a writer might easily find means of introducing his 
genius to the world, for the presses of England were 
open. This I have now fatally experienced ; the 
press is, indeed, open, 

— Facilis descensus Avemi, 
Nodes atque dies putet atri janua Ditis. 

VIRG. iEN. vi. 126. 

The gates of hell are open night and day; 

Smooth the descent, and easy is the' way. dryden. 

" The means of doing hurt to ourselves are always 
at hand. I immediately sent to a printer, and con- 
tracted with him for an impression of several thou- 
sands of my pamphlet. While it was at the press, 
I was seldom absent from the printing-house, and 
continually urged the workmen to haste, by solicita- 
tions, promises, and rewards. From the day all 
other pleasures were excluded, by the delightful 
employment of correcting the sheets ; and from the 
night sleep was generally banished, by anticipations 
of the happiness which every hour was bringing 

" At last the time of publication approached, and 
my heart beat with the raptures of an author. I was 
above all little precautions, and, in defiance of envy 
or of criticism, set my name upon the title, without 
sufficiently considering, that what has once passed 
the press is irrevocable, and that though tiic printing- 
house may properly be compared to the infernal 
regions, for the facility of its entrance, and the diffi- 
culty with which authors return from it; yet there 
is this ditf'erence, that a great genius can never re- 
turn to his former state, by a happy draught of the 
waters of oblivion. 

"I am now, Mr. Rambler, known to be an author, 

158 RAMBLER. NO. 16. 

and am condemned, irreversibly condemned, to all 
the miseries of high reputation. The first morning 
after publication my friends assembled about me ; I 
presented each, as is usual, with a copy of my book. 
They looked into the first pages, but were hindered, 
by their admiration, from reading further. The 
first pages are, indeed, very elaborate. Some pas- 
sages they particularly dwelt upon, as more emi- 
nently beautiful than the rest ; and some delicate 
strokes, and secret elegances, I pointed out to them, 
which had escaped their observation. I then begged 
of them to forbear their compliments, and invited 
them, I could do no less, to dine with me at a tavern. 
After dinner, the book was resumed ; but their praises 
very often so much overpowered my modesty, that I 
was forced to put about the glass, and had often no 
means of repressing the clamours of their admi- 
ration, but by thundering to the drawer for another 

" Next morning another set of my acquaintance 
congratulated me upon my performance, with such 
importunity of praise, that I was again forced to 
obviate their civilities by a treat. On the third day 
I had yet a greater number of applauders to put to 
silence in the same manner ; and, on the fourth, 
those whom I had entertained the first day came 
again, having, in the persual of the remaining part 
of the book, discovered so many forcible sentences 
and masterly touches, that it was impossible for me 
to bear the repetition of their commendation. I, 
therefore, persuaded them once more to adjourn to 
the tavern, and choose some other subject, on which 
I might share in the conversation. But it was not 
in their power to withhold their attention from my 
performance, which had so entirely taken possession 
of their minds, that no entreaties of mine could change 

NO. 16. RA3IULER. 159 

their topic, and I was obliged to stifle with claret 
that praise, which neither my modesty could hinder 
nor my uneasiness repress. 

" The whole week was thus spent in a kind of 
literary revel, and I have now found that nothing is 
so expensive as great abilities, unless there is joined 
with them an insatiable eagerness of praise ; for to 
escape from the pain of hearing myself exalted above 
the greatest names, dead and living, of the learned 
world, it has already cost me two hogsheads of port, 
fifteen gallons of arrac, ten dozen of claret, and five 
and forty bottles of champagne. 

"I was resolved to stay at home no longer, and, 
therefore, rose early and went to the coffee-house ; 
but found that I had now made myself too eminent 
for happiness, and that I was no longer to enjoy the 
pleasure of mixing, upon equal terms, with the rest 
of the world. As soon as I enter the room, I see 
part of the company raging with envy, which they 
endeavour to conceal, sometimes with the appearance 
of laughter, and sometimes with that of contempt ; 
but the disguise is such that I can discover the se- 
cret rancour of their hearts ; and, as envy is de- 
servedly its own punishment, I frequently indulge 
myself in tormenting them with my presence. 

" But though there may be some slight satisfac- 
tion received from the mortification of my enemies, 
yet my benevolence will not suffer me to take any 
pleasure in the terrors of my friends. I have been 
cautious, since the appearance of my work, not to 
give myself more premeditated airs of su})eriority, 
than the most rigid humility might allow. It is, 
indeed, not impossible tiuit I may sometimes have 
laid down my opinion in a manner that showed a 
consciousness of my ability to maintain it, or inter- 
rupted the conversation, when I saw its tendency, 

160 KAMBLER. NO. 16. 

without suffering the speaker to waste his time in 
explaining his sentiments ; and, indeed, I did indulge 
myself for two days in a custom of drumming with 
my fingers, when the company began to lose them- 
selves in absurdities, or to encroach upon subjects 
w^hich I knew them unqualified to discuss. But I 
generally acted with great appearance of respect, 
even to those whose stupidity I pitied in my heart. 
Yet, notwithstanding this exemplary moderation, so 
universal is the dread of uncommon powers, and 
such the unwillingness of mankind to be made wiser, 
that I have now for some days found myself shunned 
by all my acquaintance. If I knock at a door, no- 
body is at home ; if I enter a coffee-house, I have 
the box to myself. I live in the town like a lion 
in his desert, or an eagle on his rock, too great for 
friendship or society, and condemned to solitude, by 
unhappy elevation and dreaded ascendency. 

" Nor is my character only formidable to others, 
but burdensome to myself. I naturally love to talk 
without much thinking, to scatter my merriment at 
random, and to relax my thoughts with ludicrous 
remarks and fanciful images ; but such is now the 
importance of my opinion, that I am afraid to offer 
it, lest, by being established too hastily into a maxim, 
it should be the occasion of error to half the nation ; 
and such is the expectation with which I am at- 
tended, when I am going to speak, that I frequently 
pause to reflect whether what I am about to utter is 
worthy of myself. 

" This, Sir, is sufficiently miserable ; but there 
are still greater calamities behind. You must have 
read in Pope and Swift how men of parts have had 
their closets rifled, and their cabinets broke open, at 
the instigation of piratical booksellers, for the profit 
of their works ; and it is apparent, that there are 

NO. 16. RAMBLER. 161 

many prints now sold in the shops, of men whom 
you cannot suspect of sitting for that purpose, and 
whose likenesses must have been certainly stolen 
when their names made their faces vendible. These 
considerations at first put me on my guard, and I 
have, indeed, found sufficient reason for my caution, 
for I have discovered many people examining my 
countenance, with a curiosity that showed their in- 
tention to draw it ; I immediately left the house, but 
find the same behaviour in another. 

" Others may be persecuted, but I am haunted ; I 
have good reason to believe that eleven painters are 
now dogging me, for they know that he wlio can get 
mv face first will make liis fortune. I often chan2;e 
my wig, and wear my hat over my eyes, by which I 
hope somewhat to confound them ; for you know it 
is not fair to sell my face without admitting me to 
share the profit. 

" I am, however, not so much in pain for my face 
as for my papers, which I dare neither carry with 
me nor leave behind. I have, indeed, taken some 
measures for their preservation, having put them in 
an iron chest, and fixed a padlock upon my closet. 
I change my lodgings five times a week, and always 
remove at the dead of night. 

" Thus I live, in consequence of having given too 
great proofs of a predominant genius, in the solitude 
of a hermit, with the anxiety of a miser, and the 
caution of an outlaw ; afraid to show my face lest it 
should be copied ; afraid to speak, lest I should in- 
jure my character ; and to write, lest my corre- 
spondents should publish my letters ; always uneasy 
lest my servants should steal my papers for the sake 
of money, or my friends for that of the public. This 
it is to soar above the rest of mankind ; and this rep- 
resentation I lay before you, that I may be in- 

VOL. XVI. 11 

162 RAMBLER. NO. 17. 

formed how to divest myself of the laurels which 
are so cumbersome to the wearer, and descend to 
the enjoyment of that quiet from which I find a 
writer of the first class so fatally debarred. 


No. 17. TUESDAY, MAY 15, 1750. 

— Me non oracula certum, 
Sed mors certa facit. — lucan. 

Let those weak minds, who live in doubt and fear, 
To juggling priests for oracles repair; 
One certain hour of death to each decreed, 
My fixed, my certain soul from doubt has freed. 


It is recorded of some eastern monarch, that he 
kept an officer in his house, whose employment it 
was to remind him of his mortality, by calling out 
every morning at a stated hour, ' Remember, prince, 
that thou shalt die.' And the contemplation of the 
frailness and uncertainty of our present state ap- 
peared of so much importance to Solon, of Athens, 
that he left this precept to future ages ; ' Keep thine 
eye fixed upon the end of life.' 

A frequent and attentive prospect of that moment, 
which must put a period to all our schemes, and 
deprive us of all our acquisitions, is, indeed, of the 
utmost efficacy to the just and rational regulation of 
our lives ; nor would ever any thing wicked, or often 
any thing absurd, be undertaken or prosecuted by 

NO. 17. RAMBLER. 1G3 

him who should begin every day with a serious re- 
flection that he is born to die. 

The disturbers of our happiness, in this world, 
are our desires, our griefs, and our fears ; and to all 
these, the consideration of mortality is a certain and 
adequate remedy. " Think," says Epictetus, " fre- 
quently on poverty, banishment, and death, and thou 
wilt then never indulge violent desires, or give up thy 
heart to mean sentiments ovdev ovdeTrore Taireivov h&v- 
fiTjaij, ovTE uyav kindv^Tjaeug TLVo^y 

That the maxim of Epictetus is founded on just 
observation will easily be granted, when we reflect, 
how that vehemence of eagerness after the common 
objects of pursuit is kindled in our minds. We 
represent to ourselves the pleasures of some future 
possession, and suffer our thoughts to dwell atten- 
tively upon it, till it has wholly engrossed the imagi- 
nation, and permits us not to conceive any happiness 
but its attainment, or any misery but its loss ; every 
other satisfaction which the bounty of providence 
has scattered over life is neglected as inconsiderable, 
in comparison of the great object which we have 
placed before us, and is thrown from us as incum- 
bering our activity, or trampled under foot as stand- 
ing in our way. 

Every man has experienced how much of this 
ardour has been remitted, when a sharp or tedious 
sickness has set death before his eye. The exten- 
sive influence of greatness, the glitter of wealth, the 
praises of admirers, and the attendance of suppli- 
cants, have appeared vain and empty things, when 
the last hour seemed to be approaching ; and the 
same ap[)earance they would always have, if the 
same thought was always predominant. We should 
then Hud the absurdity of stretching out our arms 
incessantly to grasp that which we cannot keep, and 

164 RAMBLER. NO. 17. 

wearing out our lives in endeavours to add new 
turrets to tlie fabric of ambition, when the founda- 
tion itself is shaking, and the ground on which it 
stands is mouldering away. 

All envy is proportionate to desire ; we are un- 
easy at the attainments of another, According as we 
think our own happiness would be advanced by the 
addition of that which he withholds from us ; and 
therefore whatever depresses immoderate wishes, 
will, at the same time, set the heart free from the 
corrosion of envy, and exempt us from that vice, 
which is, above most others, tormenting to our- 
selves, hateful to the world, and productive of mean 
artifices and sordid projects. He that considers how 
soon he must close his life, will find nothing of so 
much importance as to close it well ; and will, there- 
fore, look with indifference upon whatever is useless 
to that purpose. Whoever reflects frequently upon 
the uncertainty of his own duration, will find out, 
that the state of others is not more permanent, and 
that what can confer nothing on himself very desir- 
able, cannot so much improve the condition of a 
rival, as to make him much superior to those from 
whom he has carried the prize, a prize too mean to 
deserye a very obstinate opposition. 
' E^Y^n grief, that passion to which the virtuous and 
tender mind is particularly subject, will be obviated 
or alleviated by the same thoughts. It will be ob- 
viated, if all the blessings of our condition are enjoy- 
ed with a constant sense of this uncertain tenure. 
If we remember, that whatever we possess is to be 
in our hands but a very little time, and that the 
little, which our most lively hopes can promise us, 
may be made less, by ten thousand accidents ; we 
shall not much repine at a loss, of which we cannot 
estimate the value, but of which, though we are not 

NO. 17. RAMBLER. 1C5 

able to tell the least amount, we know, with suffi- 
cient certainty, the greatest, and are convinced that 
the greatest is not much to be regretted. 

But, if any passion has so much usurped our un- 
derstanding, as not to suffer us to enjoy advantages 
witli the moderation prescribed by reason, it is not 
too late to apply this remedy, when we find our- 
selves sinking under sorrow, and inclined to pine for 
that which is irrecoverably vanished. We may 
then usefully revolve the uncertainty of our own 
condition, and the folly of lamenting that from 
which, if it had stayed a little longer, we should 
ourselves have been taken away. 

With regard to the sharpest and most melting 
sorrow, that which arises from the loss of those 
whom we have loved with tenderness, it may be ob- 
served, that friendship between mortals can be con- 
tracted on no other terms, than that one must some 
time mourn for the other's death : And this grief will 
always yield to the survivor one consolation propor- 
tionate to his attliction ; for the pain, whatever it be, 
that he himself feels, his friend has escaped. 

Nor is fear, the most overbearing and resistless 
of all our passions, less to be temperated by this uni- 
versal medicine of the mind. The frequent con- 
templation of death, as it shows the vanity of all 
human good, discovers likewise the lightness of all 
terrestrial evil, which certainly can last no longer 
than the subject upon which it acts ; and, according 
to the old observation, must be shorter, as it is more 
violent. The most cruel calamity wliich misfortune 
can produce, must, by the necessity of nature, be 
quickly at an end. Tlie soul cannot long be held in 
prison, but will fly away, and leave a lifeless body 
to human malice. 

166 KAMBLER. NO. 17. 

— Rideique sui ludibria trunci. 
And soaring mocks the broken frame below. 

The utmost that we can threaten to one another 
is that death, which, indeed, we may precipitate, but 
cannot retard, and from which, therefore, it cannot 
become a wise man to buy a reprieve at the ex- 
pense of virtue, since he knows not how small a 
j3ortion of time he can purchase, but knows, that, 
whether short or long, it will be made less valuable 
by the remembrance of the price at which it has 
been obtained. He is sure that he destroys his 
happiness, but is not sure that he lengthens his life. 

The known shortness of life, as it ought to moder- 
ate our passions, may likewise, with equal propriety, 
contract our designs. There is not time for the 
most forcible genius, and most active industry, to 
extend its effects beyond a certain sphere. To pro- 
ject the conquest of the world, is the madness of 
mighty princes ; to hope for excellence in every 
science, has been the folly of literary heroes : and 
both have found at last, that they have panted for a 
height of eminence denied to humanity, and have 
lost many opportunities of making, themselves use- 
ful and happy, by a vain ambition of obtaining a 
species of honour, which the eternal laws of Provi- 
dence have placed beyond the reach of man. 

The miscarriages of the great designs of princes 
are recorded in the histories of the world, but are 
of little use to the bulk of mankind, who seem very 
little interested in admonitions against errors which 
they cannot commit. But the fate of learned ambi- 
tion is a proper subject for every scholar to con- 
sider ; for who has not had occasion to regret the 
dissipation of great abilities in a boundless multi- 
plicity of pursuits, to lament the sudden desertion 

NO. 17. RAMBLER. 167 

of excellent designs, upon the offer of some other 
subject made inviting by its novelty, and to observe 
the inaccuracy and deficiencies of works left unfin- 
ished by too great an extension of the plan ? 

It is always pleasing to observe, how much more 
our minds can conceive than our bodies can per- 
form ; yet it is our duty, while we continue in this 
complicated state, to regulate one part of our compo- 
sition by some regard to the other. We are not to 
indulge our corporeal appetites with pleasures that 
impair our intellectual vigour, nor gratify our minds 
with schemes which we know our lives must fail in 
attempting to execute. The uncertainty of our 
duration ought at once to set bounds to our designs, 
and add incitements to our industry ; and when we 
find ourselves inclined either to immensity in our 
schemes, or sluggishness in our endeavours, we 
may either check or animate ourselves, by recol- 
lecting, with the father of physic, ' That art is long, 
and life is short.' 

168 RAMBLER. NO. 18. 

No. 18. SATURDAY, MAY 19, 1750. 

Illic matre carentibus 
Priviynis mulier temperat innocens : 
Nee dotata regit virum 
Conjux, nee nitido fidit adultero : 
Dos est magna jmreniium 

Virtus, et metens alterius viri 

Certo J'oidere castitas. hor. car. iii. 24. 17. 

Not there the guiltless step-dame knows 
The baleful draught for orphans to compose; 

No wife high-portioned rules her spouse, 
Or trusts her essenced lover's faithless vows: 

The lovers there for dowry claim 
The father's virtue, and the spotless fame 

Which dares not break the nuptial tie. francis. 

There is no observation more frequently made 
by such as employ themselves in surveying the con- 
duct of mankind, than that marriage, though the 
dictate of nature, and the institution of Providence, 
is yet very often the cause of misery, and that those 
who enter into that state can seldom forbear to ex- 
press their repentance, and their envy of those 
whom either chance or caution hath withheld 
from it. 

This general unhappiness has given occasion to 
many sage maxims among the serious, and smart 
remarks among the gay ; the moralist and the writer 
of epigrams have equally shown their abilities upon 
it ; some have lamented, and some have ridiculed it ; 
but as the faculty of writing has been chiefly a mas- 
culine endowment, the reproach of making the world 
miserable has been always thrown upon the women, 

NO. 18. RAMBLER. 169 

and the grave and the merry have equally thought 
themselves at liberty to conclude eitlier with decla- 
matory complaints, or satirical censures, of female 
folly or fickleness, ambition or cruelty, extravagance 
or lust. 

Led by such number of examples, and incited by 
my share in the common interest, I sometimes ven- 
ture to consider this universal grievance, having 
endeavoured to divest my heart of all partiality, and 
place myself as a kind of neutral being between the 
sexes, whose clamours, being equally vented on both 
sides with all the vehemence of distress, all the ap- 
parent confidence of justice, and all the indignation 
of injured virtue, seem entitled to equal regard. 
The men have, indeed, by their superiority of writ- 
ing, been able to collect the evidence of many ages, 
and raise prejudices in their favour by the venerable 
testimonies of philosophers, historians, and poets; 
but the pleas of the ladies appeal to passions of more 
forcible operation than the reverence of antiquity. 
If they have not so great names on their side, they 
have stronger arguments ; it is to little purpose, that 
Socrates, or Euripides, are produced against the sighs 
of softness and the tears of beauty. The most frigid 
and inexorable judge would, at least, stand sus- 
pended between equal powers, as Lucan was per- 
plexed in the determination of the cause, where the 
deities were on one side, and Cato on the other. 

But I, who have long studied the severest and 
most abstracted philosophy, have now, in the cool 
maturity of life, arrived at such command over my 
passions, that I can hear the vociferations of either 
sex without catching any of the fire from those that 
utter them. For I have found, by long experience, 
that a man will sometimes ragre at his wife, when in 
reality his mistress has ofl'ended him ; and a lady 

170 RAMBLER. NO. 18. 

complain of the cruelty of her husband, when she 
has no other enemy than bad cards. I do not suffer 
myself to be any longer imposed upon by oaths on 
one side, or fits on the other; nor when the husband 
hastens to the tavern, and the lady retires to her 
closet, am I always confident that they are driven 
by their, miseries ; since I have sometimes reason to 
believe, that they purpose not so much to soothe their 
sorrows, as to animate their fury. But how little 
credit soever may be given to particular accusations, 
the general accumulation of the charge shows, with 
too much evidence, that married persons are not 
very often advanced in felicity ; and, therefore, it 
may be proper to examine at what avenues so many 
evils have made their way into the world. "With 
this purpose, I have reviewed the lives of my friends, 
who have been least successful in connubial con- 
tracts, and attentively considered by what motives 
they w^ere incited to marry, and by what principles 
they regulated their choice. 

One of the first of my acquaintances that resolved 
to quit the unsettled, thoughtless condition of a 
bachelor, was Prudentius, a man of slow parts, but 
not without knowledge or judgment in things which 
he had leisure to consider gradually before he de- 
termined them. Whenever we met at a tavern, it 
was his province to settle the scheme of our enter- 
tainment, contract with the cook, and inform us when 
we had called for wine to the sum originally pro- 
posed. This grave considerer found, by deep medi- 
tation, that a man was no loser by marrying early, 
even though he contented himself with a less for- 
tune; for estimating the exact worth of annuities, 
he found that, considering the constant diminution 
of the value of life, with the probable fall of the 
interest of money, it was not worse to have ten 

NO. 18. RAMBLER. 171 

thousand pounds at the age of two and twenty years, 
than a much larger fortune at thirty ; for many op- 
portunities, says he, occur of improving money, 
which, if a man misses, he may not afterwards 

Full of these reflections, he threw his eyes about 
him, not in search of beauty or elegance, dignity or 
understanding, but of a woman with ten thousand 
pounds. Such a woman, in a wealthy part of the 
kingdom, it was not very difficult to find ; and by 
artful management with her father, whose ambition 
was to make his daughter a gentlewoman, my friend 
got her, as he boasted to us in confidence two days 
after his marriage, for a settlement of seventy-three 
pounds a-year less than her fortune might have 
claimed, and less than he himself would have given, 
if the fools had been but wise enough to delay the 

Thus, at once, delighted with the superiority of 
his parts, and the augmentation of his fortune, he 
carried Furia to his own house, in which he never 
afterwards enjoyed one hour of happiness. For 
Furia was a wretch of mean intellects, violent pas- 
sions, a strong voice and low education, without any 
sense of happiness but that which consisted in eat- 
ing and counting money. Furia was a scold. They 
agreed in the desire of wealth, but with this differ- 
ence, that Prudentius was for growing rich by gain, 
Furia by parsimony. Prudentius would venture 
his money with chances very much in his favour ; 
but Furia very wisely observing, that what they had 
was, while they had it, their own, thought all traffic 
too great a hazard, and was for putting it out at low 
interest, upon good security. Prudentius ventured, 
however, to insure a ship, at a very unreasonable 
price, but happening to lose his money, was so tor- 

172 RAMBLER. NO. 18. 

merited with the clamours of his wife, that he 
never durst try a second experiment. He has 
now grovelled seven and forty years under Furia^s 
direction, who never once mentioned him, since 
his bad luck, by any other name than that of The 

The next that married from our society was Flo- 
rentius. He happened to see Zephyretta in a 
chariot at a horserace, danced with her at night, 
was confirmed in his first ardour, waited on her next 
morning, and declared himself her lover. Floren- 
tius had not knowledge enough of the world, to dis- 
tinguish between the flutter of coquetry, and the 
sprightliness of wit, or between the smile of allure- 
ment, and that of cheerfulness. He was soon waked 
from his rapture by conviction that his pleasure 
was but the pleasure of a day. Zephyretta had 
in four and twenty hours spent her stock of repar- 
tee, gone round the circle of her airs, and had 
nothing remaining for him but childish insipidity, or 
for herself, but the practice of the same artifices 
upon new men. 

Melissus was a man of parts, capable of enjoying 
and of improving life. He had passed through the 
various scenes of gayety with that indifference and 
possession of himself, natural to men who have 
something higher and nobler in their prospect. Re- 
tiring to spend the summer in a village little fre- 
quented, he happened to lodge in the same house 
with lanthe, and was unavoidably drawn to some 
acquaintance, which her wit and politeness soon 
invited him to improve. Having no opportunity 
of any other company, they were always together ; 
and, as they owed their pleasures to each other, 
they began to forget that any pleasure was enjoyed 
before their meeting. Melissus, from being delighted 

NO. 18. RAMBLER. 173 

with her company, quickly began to be uneasy in 
her absence, and l3eing sufficiently convinced of the 
force of her understanding, and finding, as he ima- 
gined, such a conformity of temper as declared 
them formed for each other, addressed her as a 
lover, after no very long courtship obtained her for 
his wife, and brought her next winter to town in 

Now began their infelicity. Melissus had only 
seen her in one scene, where there was no variety 
of objects, to produce the proper excitements to con- 
trary desires. They had both loved solitude and 
reflection, where there was nothing but solitude and 
reflection to be loved ; but when they came into 
public life, lanthe discovered those passions, which 
accident rather than hypocrisy had hitherto con- 
cealed. She was, indeed, not without the power 
of thinking, but was wholly without the exertion of 
that power, when either gayety or splendour played 
on her imagination. She was expensive in her di- 
versions, vehement in her passions, insatiate of 
pleasure, however dangerous to her reputation, and 
eager of applause by whomsoever it might be given. 
This was the wife which Melissus, the philosopher, 
found in his retirement, and from whom he expected 
an associate in his studies, and an assistant to his 

Prosapius, upon the death of his younger brother, 
that the family might not be extinct, married his 
housekeeper, and has ever since been complaining 
to his friends that mean notions are instilled into his 
children, that he is ashamed to sit at his own table, 
and that his house is uneasy to him for want of suit- 
able companions. 

Avaro, master of a very large estate, took a 
woman of a bad reputation, recommended to him by 

174 RAMBLER. NO. 19. 

a rich uncle, who made that marriage the condition 
on which he should be his heir. Avaro now wonders 
to perceive his own fortune, his wife's, and his 
uncle's, insufficient to give him that happiness which 
is to be found only with a woman of virtue. 

I intend to treat in more papers on this important 
article of life, and shall, therefore, make no reflec- 
tion upon these histories, except that all whom I 
have mentioned failed to obtain happiness for want 
of considering, that marriage is the strictest tie of 
perpetual friendship, and there can be no friendship 
without confidence, and no confidence without integ- 
rity ; and that he must expect to be wretched, who 
pays to beauty, riches, or politeness, that regard 
which onl" virtue and piety can claim. 

No. 19. TUESDAY, MAY 22, 1750. 

Dum modb causidicum^ dum te modo rhetora fingis, 

Et non decernis, Taure^ quid esse velis, 
Peleos et Priami transit, vel Nestoris cetas, 

Et fuerat serum jam tibi desinere. — 
Eja, age, rumpe moras, quo te spectabimus vsqvs f 

Dum, quid sis, dubitas,jam j^otes esse nihil. mart. 

To vlietoric now, and now to law inclined, 

Uncertain where to fix thy changing mind; 

Old Priam's age, or Nestor's may be ont, 

And thou, Taurus, still go on in doubt. 

Come then, how long such wavering shall we see? 

Thou may'st doubt on: thou now can'st nothing be. 


It is never without very melancholy reflections, 
that we can observe the misconduct, or miscarriage, 

NO. 19. RAMBLER. 175 

of those men, who seem by the force of understand- 
ing, or extent of knowledge, exempted from the 
general frailties of human nature, and privileged 
from the common infelicities of life. Though the 
world is crowded with scenes of calamity, we look 
upon the general mass of wretchedness with very 
little regard, and fix our eyes upon the state of par- 
ticular persons, whom the eminence of their qualities 
marks out from the multitude ; as in reading an ac- 
count of a battle, we seldom reflect on the vulgar 
heaps of slaughter, but follow the hero with our 
whole attention, through all the varieties of his for- 
tune, without a thought of the thousands that are 
falling round him. 

With the same kind of anxious veneration I have 
for many years been making observations on the 
life of Polyphilus, a man whom all his acquaintances 
have, from his first appearance in the world, feared 
for the quickness of his discernment, and admired 
for the multiplicity of his attainments, but whose pro- 
gress in life, and usefulness to mankind, has been 
hindered by the superfluity of his knowledge and 
the celerity of his mind. 

Polyphilus was remarkable, at the school, for sur- 
passing all his companions, without any visible ap- 
plication, and at the university was distinguished 
equally for his successful progress as well through 
the thorny mazes of science, as the flowery path of 
politer literature, without any strict confinement to 
hours of study, or remarkable forbearance of the 
common amusements of young men. 

When Polyphilus was at the age in which men 
usually choose their profession, and prepare to enter 
into a public character, every academical eye was 
fixed upon him; all were curious to inquire what 
this universal genius would fix upon for the em- 

176 RAMBLER. NO. 19. 

plojment of his life ; and no doubt was made but 
that he would leave all his contemporaries behind 
him, and mount to the highest honours of that class 
in which he should enlist himself, without those de- 
lays and pauses which must be endured by meaneV 

Polyphilus, though by no means insolent or as- 
suming, had been sufficiently encouraged, by unin- 
terrupted success, to place great confidence in his 
own parts ; and was not below his companions in 
the indulgence of his hopes, and expectations of the 
astonishment with which the world would be struck, 
when first his lustre should break out upon it : nor 
could he forbear — for whom does not constant flat- 
tery intoxicate ? — to join sometimes in the mirth of 
his friends, at the sudden disappearance of those, 
who, having shone a while, and drawn the eyes of 
the public upon their feeble radiance, were now 
doomed to fade away before him. 

It is natural for a man to catch advantageous no- 
tions of the condition which those, with whom he 
converses, are striving to attain. Polyphilus, in a 
ramble to London, fell accidentally among the physi- 
cians, and was so much pleased with the prospect 
of turning philosophy to profit, and so highly de- 
lighted with a new theory of fevers which darted 
into his imagination, and which, after having consid- 
ered it a few hours, he found himself able to main- 
tain against all the advocates for the ancient system, 
that he resolved to apply himself to anatomy, bot- 
any, and chemistry, and to leave no part uncon- 
quered either of the animal, mineral, or vegetable 

He therefore read authors, constructed systems, 
and tried experiments ; but, unhappily, as he was 
going to see a new plant in flower at Chelsea, he 

NO. 19. RAMBLER. It t 

met, in crossing Westminster to take water, the 
chancellor's coach ; he had the curiosity to follow 
him into the hall, where a remarkable cause hap- 
pened to be tried, and found himself able to produce 
so many arguments, which the lawyers had omitted 
on both sides, that he determined to quit physic for 
a profession, in which he found it would be so easy 
to excel, and which promised higher honours, and 
larger profits, without melancholy attendance upon 
misery, mean submission to peevishness, and con- 
tinual interruption of rest and pleasure. 

He immediately took chambers in the Temple, 
bought a commonplace-book, and confined himself 
for some months to the perusal of the statutes, year- 
books, pleadings, and reports ; he was a constant 
hearer of the courts, and began to put cases with 
reasonable accuracy. But he soon discovered, by 
considering the fortune of lawyers, that preferment 
was not to be got by acuteness, learning, and elo- 
quence. He was perplexed by the absurdities of 
attorneys, and misrepresentations made by his clients 
of their own causes, by the useless anxiety of one, 
and the incessant importunity of another; he began 
to repent of having devoted himself to a study, which 
was so narrow in its comprehension that it could 
never carry his name to any other country, and 
thought it unworthy of a man of parts to sell his 
life only for money. The barrenness of his fellow- 
students forced him generally into other company 
at his hours of entertainment, and among the varie- 
ties of conversation through which his curiosity was 
daily wandering, he, by chance, mingled at a tavern 
with some intelligent officers of the army. A man 
of letters was easily dazzled with the gayety of their 
appearance, and softened into kindness by the polite- 
ness of their address ; he, therefore, cultivated this 

VOL. XVI. 12 


178 RAMBLER. NO. 19. 

new acquaintance, and when he saw how readily 
they found in every place admission and regard, and 
how famiharly they mingled with every rank and 
order of men, he began to feel his heart beat for 
military honours, and wondered how the prejudices 
of the university should make him so long insen- 
sible of that ambition, which has fired so many 
hearts in every age, and negligent of that calling, 
which is, above all others, universally and invari- 
ably illustrious, and w^hich gives, even to the ex- 
terior appearance of its professors, a dignity and 
freedom unknown to the rest of mankind. 

These favourable impressions were made still 
deeper by his conversation with ladies, whose regard 
for soldiers he could not observe, without wishing 
himself one of that happy fraternity, to which the 
female world seemed to have devoted their charms 
and their kindness. The love of knowledge, which 
was still his predominant inclination, was gratified 
by the recital of adventures, and accounts of foreign 
countries ; and therefore he concluded that there 
was no way of life, in which all his views could so 
completely concentre as in that of a soldier. In the 
art of war he thought it not difiicult to excel, hav- 
ing observed his new friends not very much versed 
in the principles of tactics or fortification ; he there- 
fore studied all the military writers both ancient 
and modern, and, in a short time, could tell how to 
have gained every remarkable battle that has been 
lost from the beginning of the world. He often 
showed at table how Alexander should have been 
checked in his conquests, what was the fatal error 
at Pharsalia, how Charles of Sweden might have 
escaped his ruin at Pultowa, and Marlborough might 
have been made to repent his temerity at Blenheim. 
He entrenched armies upon paper so that no supe- 

NO. 19. KAMBLER. 179 

riority of numbers could force them, and modelled in 
clay many impregnable fortresses, on which all the 
present arts of attack would be exhausted without 

Polyphilus, in a short time, obtained a commis- 
sion ; but before he could rub off the solemnity of a 
scholar, and gain the true air of military vivacity, a 
war was declared, and forces sent to the continent. 
Here Polyphilus unhappily found that study alone 
would not make a soldier ; feu* being much accus- 
tomed to think, he let the sense of danger sink in to 
his mind, and felt, at the approach of any action, 
that terror which a sentence of death would have 
brought upon him. He saw that instead of con- 
quering their fears, the endeavour of his gay friends 
was only to escape them ; but his philosophy chain- 
ed his mind to its object, and rather loaded, him 
with shackles than furnished him with arms. He, 
however, suppressed his misery in silence, and 
passed through the campaign with honour, but 
found himself utterly unable to support another. 

He then had recourse again to his books, and 
continued to range from one study to another. As 
I usually visit him once a month, and am admitted 
to him without previous notice, I have found him, 
within this last half year, deciphering the Chinese 
language, making a farce, collecting a vocabulary 
of the obsolete terms of the English law, writing an 
inquiry concerning the ancient Corinthian brass, 
and forming a new scheme of the variations of the 

Thus is this powerful genius, which might have 
extended the sphere of any science, or benefited 
the v/orld in any profession, dissipated in a bound- 
less variety, without profit to others or himself. He 
makes sudden irruptions int(j the regions of know- 

180 RAMBLER. NO. 19. 

ledge, and sees all obstacles give way before him ; 
but he never stays long enough to complete his 
conquest, to establish laws, or bring away the 

Such is often the folly of men, whom nature has 
enabled to obtain skill and knowledge, on terms so 
easy, that they have no sense of the value of the 
acquisition ; they are qualified to make such speedy 
progress in learning, that they think themselves at 
liberty to loiter in the way, and, by turning aside 
after every new object, lose the race, like Atalanta, 
to slower competitors, who press diligently forward, 
and whose force is directed to a single point. 

I have often thought those happy that have been 
fixed, from the first dawn of thought, in a determina- 
tion to some state of life, by the choice of one, whose 
authority may preclude caprice, and whose influence 
may prejudice them in favour of his opinion. The 
general precept of consulting the genius is of little 
use, unless we are told how the genius can be known. 
If it is to be discovered only by experiment, life will 
be lost before the resolution can be fixed ; if any 
other indications are to be found, they may, perhaps, 
be very early discerned. At least, if to miscarry in 
an attempt be a proof of having mistaken the direc- 
tion of the genius, men appear not less frequently 
deceived with regard to themselves than to others ; 
and therefore, no one has much reason to complain 
that his life was planned out by his friends, or to be 
confident that he should have had either more hon- 
our or happiness, by being abandoned to the chance 
of his own fancy. 

It was said of the learned Bishop Sanderson, that, 
when he was preparing his lectures, he hesitated so 
much, and rejected so often, that, at the time of 
reading, he was often forced to produce, not what 

NO. 20. RAMBLER. 181 

was best, but what happened to be at hand. This 
will be the state of every man, who, in the choice 
of his employment, balances all the arguments on 
every side ; the complication is so intricate, the mo- 
tives and objections so numerous, there is so much 
play for the imagination, and so much remains in 
the power of others, that reason is forced at last to rest 
in neutrality, the decision devolves into the hands 
of chance, and after a great part of life spent in 
inquiries which can never be resolved, the rest must 
often pass in repenting the unnecessary delay, and 
can be useful to few other purposes than to warn 
others against the same folly, and to show, that of 
two states of life equally consistent with religion and 
virtue, he who chooses earliest chooses best. 

No. 20. SATURDAY, MAY 26, 1750. 

Ad populum phaleras. Ego te intus, et in cute novu 

PEES. SAT. iii. 30. 

Such pageantry be to the people shown ; 

There boast thy horse's trappings and thy own ; 

I know thee to thy bottom; from within 

Thy shallow centre, to thy utmost skin. dryden. 

Among the numerous stratagems, by which pride 
endeavours to recommend folly to regard, there is 
scarcely one that meets with less success than affec- 
tation, or a perpetual disguise of the real character, 
by fictitious appearances ; whether it be, that every 
man hates falsehood, from the natural congruity of 

182 RAMBLER. NO. 20. 

truth to his faculties of reason, or that every man is 
jealous of the honour of his understanding, and thinks 
his discernment consequentially called in question, 
whenever any thing is exhibited under a borrowed 

This aversion from all kinds of disguise, whatever 
be its cause, is universally diffused, and incessantly 
in action ; nor is it necessary, that to exasperate de- 
testation, or excite contempt, any interest should be 
invaded, or any competition attempted ; it is ^ suffi- 
cient that there is an intention to deceive, an inten- 
tion which every heart swells to oppose, and every 
tongue is busy to detect. 

This reflection was awakened in my mind by a 
very common practice among my correspondents, 
of writing under characters which they cannot sup- 
port, which are of no use to the explanation or en- 
forcement of that which they describe or recommend ; 
and which, therefore, since they assume them only 
for the sake of displaying their abilities, I will ad- 
vise them for the future to forbear, as laborious with- 
out advantage. 

It is almost a general ambition of those who 
favour me with their advice for the regulation of 
my conduct, or their contribution for the assistance 
of my understanding, to affect the style and the 
names of ladies. And I cannot always withhold some 
expression of anger, Uke Sir Hugh in the comedy, 
when I happen to find that a woman has a beard. 
I must, therefore, warn the gentle Phylhs that she 
send me no more letters from the Horse Guards ; 
and require of Belinda, that she be content to resign 
her pretensions to female elegance, till she has lived 
three weeks without hearing the politics of Batson s 
coffee-house. I must indulge myself in the liberty 
of observation, that there were some allusions in 

NO. 20. RAMBLER. 183 

Chloris's production, sufficient to show that Bracton 
and Plowden are her favourite authors ; and that 
Euphelia has not been long enough at home to wear 
out all the traces of the phraseology, which she 
learned in the expedition to Carthagena. 

Among all my female friends, there was none 
who gave me more trouble to decipher her true 
character, than Penthesilea, whose letter lay upon 
my desk three days before I could fix upon the real 
writer. There was a confusion of images, and 
medley of barbarity, which held me long in sus- 
pense ; till by perseverance I disentangled the per- 
plexity, and found, that Penthesilea is the son of a 
wealthy stock-jobber, who spends his morning under 
his father's eye, in Change-alley, dines at a tavern 
in Covent-garden, passes his evening in the play- 
house, and part of the night at a gaming-table, 
and having learned the dialects of these various 
regions, has mingled them all in a studied com- 

When Lee was once told by a critic, that it was 
very easy to write like a madman ; he answered, 
that it was difficult to write like a madman, but easy 
enough to write like a fool ; and I hope to be ex- 
cused by my kind contributors, if, in imitation of this 
great author, I presume to remind them, that it is 
much easier not to write like a man, than to write 
like a w^oman. 

I have, indeed, some ingenious wellwishers, who, 
without departing from their sex, have found very 
wonderful appellations. A very smart letter has 
been sent me from a puny ensign, signed Ajax 
Telamonius ; another in recommendation of a new 
treatise upon cards, from a gamester who calls 
himself Sesostris ; and another upon the improve- 
ments of the fishery, from Dioclesian ; but as these 

184 RAMBLER. NO. 20. 

seem only to have picked up their appellations by 
chance, without endeavouring at any particular im- 
posture, their improprieties are rather instances of 
blunder than of affectation, and are, therefore, not 
equally fitted to inflame the hostile passions ; for it 
is not folly but pride, not error but deceit, which 
the world means to persecute, when it raises the full 
cry of nature to hunt down affectation. 

The hatred, which dissimulation always draws 
upon itself, is so great, that if I did not know how 
much cunning differs from wisdom, I should wonder 
that any men have so little knowledge of their own 
interest, as to aspire to wear a mask for life ; to try* 
to impose upon the world a character, to which they 
feel themselves void of any just claim ; and to hazard 
their quiet, their fame, and even their profit, by 
exposing themselves to the danger of that reproach, 
malevolence, and neglect, which such a discovery 
as they have always to fear will certainly bring 
upon them. 

It might be imagined, that the pleasure of reputa- 
tion should consist in the satisfaction of having our 
opinion of our own merit confirmed by the suffrage 
of the public ; and that, to be extolled for a quality, 
which a man knows himself to want, should give 
him no other happiness than to be mistaken for the 
owner of an estate, over which he chances to be 
travelling. But he, who subsists upon affectation, 
knows nothing of this delicacy ; like a desperate ad- 
venturer in commerce, he takes up reputation upon 
trust, mortgages possessions which he never had, 
and enjoys, to the fatal hour of bankruptcy, though 
with a thousand terrors and anxieties, the unneces- 
sary splendour of borrowed riches. 

Affectation is to be always distinguished from 
hypocrisy, as being the art of counterfeiting those 

NO. 20. RAMBLKR. 185 

qualities which we might, with innocence and safety, 
be known to want. Thus the man, who, to carry 
on any fraud, or to conceal any crime, pretends to 
rigours of devotion and exactness of life, is guilty of 
hypocrisy ; and his guilt is greater, as the end, for 
which he puts on the false appearance, is more per- 
nicious. But he that, with an awkward address, 
and unpleasing countenance, boasts of the conquests 
made by him among the ladies, and counts over the 
thousands which he might have possessed if he 
would have submitted to the yoke of matrimony, is 
chargeable only with affectation. Hypocrisy is the 
necessary burden of villany, affectation part of the 
chosen trappings of folly ; the one completes a villain, 
the other only finishes a fop. Contempt is the prop- 
er punishment of affectation, and detestation the just 
consequence of hypocrisy. 

With the hypocrite it is not at present my inten- 
tion to expostulate, though even he might be taught 
the excellency of virtue, by the necessity of seeming 
to be virtuous ; but the man of affectation may, per- 
haps, be reclaimed, by finding how little he is likely 
to gain by perpetual constraint and incessant vigi- 
lance, and how much more securely he might make 
his way to esteem, by cultivating real, than display- 
ing counterfeiting qualities. 

Every thing future is to be estimated by a wise 
man, in proportion to the probability of attaining it, 
and its value when attained ; and neither of these 
considerations will much contribute to the encour- 
agement of affectation. For, if the pinnacles of 
fame be, at best, slippery, how unsteady must his 
footing be who stands upon pinnacles without foun- 
dation ! If praise be made, by the inconstancy and 
maliciousness of those who must confer it, a blessing 
which no man can promise himself from the most 

186 RAMBLER. NO. 20. 

conspicuous merit and vigorous industry, how faint 
must be the hope of gaining it, when the uncertainty 
is multiplied by the weakness of the pretensions ! 
He that pursues fame with just claims, trusts his 
happiness to the winds; but he that endeavours 
after it by false merit, has to fear, not only the 
violence of the storm, but the leaks of his vessel. 
Though he should happen to keep above water for 
a time, by the help of a soft breeze, and a calm sea, 
at the first gust he must inevitably founder, with 
this melancholy reflection, that, if he would have 
been content with his natural station^ he might have 
escaped his calamity. Affectation may possibly 
succeed for a time, and a man may, by great at- 
tention, persuade others, that he really has the 
qualities which he presumes to boast ; but the hour 
will come when he should exert them, and then, 
whatever he enjoyed in praise, he must suffer in 

Applause and admiration are by no means to be 
counted among the necessaries of life, and, therefore, 
any indirect arts to obtain them have very little 
claim to pardon or compassion. There is scarcely 
any man without some valuable or improvable qual- 
ities, by which he might always secure himself from 
contempt. And, perhaps, exemption from ignominy 
is the most elegible reputation, as freedom from 
pain is, among some philosophers, the definition of 

If we, therefore, compare the value of the praise 
obtained by fictitious excellence, even while the 
cheat is yet undiscovered, with that kindness which 
every man may suit by his virtue, and that esteem 
to which most men may rise by common understand- 
ing steadily and honestly applied, we shall find that 
when from the adscititious happiness all the deduc- 

NO. 21. RAMBLER. 187 

tions are made by fear and casualty, there will re- 
main nothing equiponderant to the security of truth. 
The state of the possessor of humble virtues, to the 
affector of great excellences, is that of a small 
cottage of stone, to the palace raised with ice by 
the empress of Russia ; it was for a time splendid 
and luminous, but the first sunshine melted it to 

No. 21. TUESDAY, MAY 29, 1750. 

Terra salutares herbas, eademque nocentes, 
Nutrit ; et urticce proxima scepe rosa est. 

OVID. KEM. AM. 45. 

Our bane and physic the same earth bestows, 
And near the noisome nettle blooms the rose. 

Every man is prompted by the love of himself 
to imagine, that he possesses some qualities, supe- 
rior, either in kind or in degree, to those which he 
sees allotted to the rest of the world ; and, whatever 
apparent disadvantages he may suffer in the com- 
parison with others, he has some invisible distinc- 
tions, some latent reserve of excellence, which he 
throws into the balance, and by which he generally 
fancies that it is turned in his favour. 

The studious and speculative })art of mankind al- 
ways seem to consider their fraternity as placed in 
a state of opposition to those who are engaged in 
the tumult of public business ; and have pleased 
themselves, from age to age, with celebrating the 

188 RAMBLER. t NO. 21. 

felicity of their own condition, and with recounting 
the perplexity of politics, the dangers of greatness, 
the anxieties of ambition, and the miseries of riches. 

Among the numerous topics of declamation, that 
their industry has discovered on this subject, there 
is none which they press with greater efforts, or on 
which they have more copiously laid out their reason 
and their imagination, than the instability of high 
stations, and the uncertainty with which the profits 
and honours are possessed that must be acquired 
with so much hazard, vigilance, and labour. 

This they appear to consider as an irrefragable 
argument against the choice of the statesman and 
the warrior; and swell with confidence of victory, 
thus furnished by the muses with the arms which 
never can be blunted, and which no art or strength 
of their adversaries can elude or resist. 

It was well known by experience to the nations 
which employed elephants in war, that though by 
the terror of their bulk, and the violence of their 
impression, they often threw the enemy into dis- 
order, yet there was always danger in the use of 
them, very nearly equivalent to the advantage ; for 
if their first charge could be supported, they were 
easily driven back upon their confederates; they 
then broke through the troops behind them, and 
made no less havoc in the precipitation of their 
retreat, than in the fury of their onset. 

1 know not whether those, who have so vehe- 
mently urged the inconveniencies and danger of an 
active life, have not made use of arguments that 
may be retorted with equal force upon themselves ; 
and whether the happiness of a candidate for literary 
fame be not subject to the same uncertainty with 
that of him who governs provinces, commands 
armies, presides in the senate, or dictates in the 

NO. 21. RAMBLER. 189 

That eminence of learning is not to be gained with- 
out labour, at least equal to that which any other 
kind of greatness can require, will be allowed by 
those who wish to elevate the character of a scholar ; 
since they cannot but know, that every human ac- 
quisition is valuable in proportion to the difficulty 
employed in its attainment. And that those, who 
have gained the esteem and veneration of the world, 
by their knowledge or their genius, are by no means 
exempt from the solicitude which any other kind 
of dignity produces, may be conjectured from the 
innumerable artifices which they make use of to de- 
grade a superior, to repress a rival, or obstruct a 
follower ; artifices so gross and mean, as to prove 
evidently how much a man may excel in learning, 
without being either more wise or more virtuous 
than those whose ignorance he pities or despises. 

Nothing therefore remains, by which the student 
can gratify his desire of appearing to have built his 
happiness on a more firm basis than his antagonist, 
except the certainty with which his honours are en- 
joyed. The garlands gained by the heroes of litera- 
ture must be gathered from summits equally difficult 
to climb with those that bear the civic or triumphal 
wreaths ; they must be worn with equal envy, and 
guarded with equal care from those hands that are 
always employed in efforts to tear them away ; the 
only remaining hope is, that their verdure is more 
lasting, and that they are less likely to fade by time, 
or less obnoxious to the blasts of accident. 

Even this hope will receive very little encourage- 
ment from the examination of the history of learn- 
ing, or observation of the fate of scholars in the 
present age. If we look back into past times, we 
find innumerable names of authors once in high 
reputation, read perhaps by the beautiful, quoted 

190 RAMBLER. NO. 21, 

by the witty, and commented on by the grave ; but 
of whom we now know only that they once existed. 
If we» consider the distribution of hterary fame in 
our own time, we shall find it a possession of very 
•uncertain tenure; sometimes bestowed by a sudden 
caprice of the public, and again transferred to a new 
favourite, for no other reason than that he is new ; 
sometimes refused to long labour and eminent de- 
sert, and sometimes granted to very slight preten- 
sions ; lost sometimes by security and negligence, 
and sometimes by too diligent endeavours to re- 
tain it. 

A successful author is equally in danger of the 
diminution of his fame, whether he continues or 
ceases to write. The regard of the public is not to 
be kept but by tribute, and the remembrance of past 
service will quickly languish unless successive per- 
formances frequently revive it. Yet in every new 
attempt there is new hazard, and there are few who 
do not, at some unlucky time, injure their own char- 
acters by attempting to enlarge them. 

There are many possible causes of that inequality 
which we may so frequently observe in the perform- 
ances of the same man, from the influence of which 
no ability or industry is sufficiently secured, and 
which have so often sullied the splendour of genius, 
that the wit, as w^ell as the conqueror, may be prop- 
erly cautioned not to indulge his pride with too 
early triumphs, but to defer to the end of life his 
estimate of happiness. 

— Ultima semper 
Exspectanda dies liomini : dicique beaius 
Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet. 

OVID, MET. iii. 135. 

But no frail man, however great or high, 

Can be concluded blest before he die. addisojj. 

NO. 21. RAMBLER. 191 

Among the motives that urge an author to under- 
takings by which his reputation is impaired, one of 
the most frequent must be mentioned with tender- 
ness, because it is not to be counted among his fol- 
lies, but his* miseries. It very often happens that 
the works of learning or of wit are performed at 
the direction of those by whom they are to be re- 
warded ; the writer has not always the choice of his 
subject, but is compelled to accept any task which 
is thrown before him, without much consideration of 
his own convenience, and without time to prepare 
himself by previous studies. 

Miscarriages of this kind are likewise frequently 
the consequence of that acquaintance with the great, 
which is generally considered as one of the chief 
privileges of literature and genius. A man who has 
once learned to think himself exalted by familiarity 
with those whom nothing but their birth, or their 
fortunes, or such stations as are seldom gained by 
moral excellence, set above him, will not be long 
without submitting his understanding to their con- 
duct ; he will suffer them to prescribe the course of 
his studies, and employ him for their own purposes 
either of diversion or interest. His desire of pleas- 
ing those whose favour he has weakly made neces- 
sary to himself, will not suffet' him always to consider 
how little he is qualified for the work imposed. 
Either his vanity will tempt him to conceal his defi- 
ciencies, or that cowardice, which always encroaches 
fast upon such as spend their lives in the company 
of persons higher than themselves, will not leave him 
resolution to assert the liberty of choice. 

But, though we suppose that a man by his fortune 
can avoid the necessity of dependence, and by his 
spirit can repel the usurpations of patronage, yet he 
may easily, by writing long, hap[)cii to write ill. 

192 RAMBLER. NO. 21. 

There is a general succession of effects, in which 
contraries are produced by periodical vicissitudes ; 
labour and care are rewarded with success, success 
produces confidence, confidence relaxes industry, and 
negligence ruins that reputation which accuracy had 

He that happens not to be lulled by praise into 
supineness, may be animated by it to undertakings 
above his strength, or incited to fancy himself alike 
qualified for every kind of composition, and able to 
comply with the public taste through all its varia- 
tions. By some opinion like this, many men have 
been engaged at an advanced age, in attempts which 
they had not time to complete, and after a few weak 
efforts sunk into the grave with vexation to see the 
rising generation gain ground upon them. From 
these failures the highest genius is not exempt; that 
judgment which appears so penetrating, when it is 
employed upon the works of others, very often fails 
where interest or passion can exert their power. 
We are blinded in examining our own labours by 
innumerable prejudices. Our juvenile compositions 
please us, because they bring to our minds the 
remembrance of youth ; our latter performances we 
are ready to esteem, because we are unwilling to 
think that we have made no improvement ; what 
flows easily from the pen charms us, because we 
read with pleasure that which flatters our opinion 
of our own powers ; what was composed with great 
struggles of the mind we do not easily reject, because 
we cannot bear that so much labour should be fruit- 
less. But the reader has none of these preposses- 
sions, and wonders that the author is so unlike 
himself, without considering that the same soil will, 
vfiih different culture, afford different products. 

NO. 22. RAMBLER. . 193 

No. 22. SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 1750. 

— £^70 7iec stndlum sine divite vend, 
Nee rude quid prtjsit video ingenium, alterius sic 
Altera poscit opem res, et conjurat amice. 

HOR. ARS POET. 409. 

Without a genius learning soars in vain ; 
And without learning genius sinks again; 
Their force united crowns the sprightly reign. 


Wit and Learning were the children of Apollo, 
by ditferent mothers ; ^Yit was the offspring of Eu- 
phrosyne, and resembled her in cheerfulness and 
vivacity ; Learning was born of Sophia, and retained 
her seriousness and caution. As their mothers 
were rivals, they were bred up by them from their 
birth in habitual opposition, and all means were so 
incessantly employed to impress upon them a hatred 
and contempt of each other, that though Apollo, who 
foresaw the ill effects of their discord, endeavoured 
to soften them, by dividing his regard equally be- 
tween them, yet his impartiality and kindness were 
without effect ; the maternal animosity was deeply 
rooted, having been intermingled with their first 
ideas, and was confirmed every hour, as fresh op- 
portunities occurred of exerting it. No so6ner were 
they of age to be received into the apartments of the 
other celestials, than wit began to entertain Venus 
at her toilet, by aping the solemnity of Learning, and 
Learning to divert Minerva at her loom, by exposing 
the blunders and ignorance of Wit. 
• VOL. XVL 13 

194 RAMBLER. NO. 22. 

Thus thej grew up, with malice perpetually in- 
creasing, by the encouragement which each received 
from those whom their mother had persuaded to 
patronize and support them ; and longed to be ad- 
mitted to the table of Jupiter, not so much for the 
hope of gaining honour, as of excluding a rival from 
all pretensions to regard, and of putting an everlast- 
ing stop to the progress of that influence which either 
believed the other to have obtained by mean arts 
and false appearances. 

At last the day came, when they were both, with 
the usual solemnities, received into the class of supe- 
rior deities, and allowed to take nectar from the 
hand of Hebe. But from that hour Concord lost 
her authority at the table of Jupiter. The rivals, 
animated by their new dignity, and incited by the 
alternate applauses of the associate powers, har- 
assed each other by incessant contests, with such a 
regular vicissitude of victory, that neither was de- 

It was observable, that, at the beginning of every 
debate, the advantage was on the side of Wit ; and 
that, at the first sallies, the whole assembly sparkled, 
according to Homer's expression, with unextinguish- 
able merriment. But Learning would reserve her 
strength till the burst of applause was over, and the 
languor, with which the violence of joy is always 
succeeded, began to promise more calm and patient 
attention. She then attempted her defence, and, by 
comparing one part of her antagonist's objections 
with another, commonly made him confute himself; 
or by showing how small a part of the question he 
had taken into his view, proved that his opinion 
could have no weight. The audience began gradu- 
ally to lay aside their prepossessions, and rose, at 
last, with great veneration for Learning, but with 
greater kindness for Wit. t 

NO. 22. RAMBLER. 195 

Their conduct was, whenever they desired to re- 
commend themselves to distinction, entirely opposite. 
Wit was daring and adventurous, Learning cautious 
and deliberate. Wit thought nothing reproachful 
but dulness ; Learning was afraid of no imputation 
but that of error. Wit answered before he under- 
stood, lest his quickness of apprehension should be 
questioned ; Learning paused, where there was no 
difficulty, lest any insidious sophism should lie un- 
discovered. Wit perplexed every debate by rapid- 
ity and confusion ; Learning tired the hearers with 
endless distinctions, and prolonged the dispute with- 
out advantage, by proving that which never was 
denied. Wit, in hopes of shining, would venture to 
produce what he had not considered, and often suc- 
ceeded beyond his own expectation, by following 
the train of a lucky thought ; Learning would reject 
every new notion, for fear of being entangled in con- 
sequences which she could not foresee, and was often 
hindered, by her caution, from pressing her advan- 
tages, and subduing her opponent. 

Both had prejudices, which in some degree hin- 
dered their progress towards perfection, and left 
them open to attacks. Novelty was the darling of 
Wit, and antiquity of Learning. To Wit, all that 
was new was specious ; to Learning, whatever was 
ancient was venerable. Wit, however, seldom failed 
to divert those whom he could not convince, and to 
convince was not often his ambition ; Learning al- 
ways supported her opinion with so many collateral 
truths, that, when the cause was decided against 
her, her arguments were remembered with ad- 

Nothing was more common, on either side, than 
to quit their proper characters, and to hope for a 
complete conquest by the use of the weapons which 

196 BAMBLER. NO. 22. 

had been employed against them. Wit would some- 
times labour a syllogism, and Learning distort her 
features with a jest ; but they always suffered by 
the experiment, and betrayed themselves to confu- 
tation or contempt. The seriousness of Wit was 
without dignity, and the merriment of Learning with- 
out vivacity. 

Their contests by long continuance, grew at last 
important, and the divinities broke into parties. Wit 
was taken into j)rotection of the laughter-loving Ve- 
nus, had a retinue allowed him of Smiles and Jests, 
and was often permitted to dance among the Graces. 
Learning still continued the favourite of Minerva, 
and seldom went out of her palace, without a train 
of the severer virtues, Chastity, Temperance, Forti- 
tude, and Labour. Wit, cohabiting with Malice, 
had a son named Satire, who followed him, carrying 
a quiver filled with poisoned arrows, which, where 
they once drew blood, could by no skill ever be 
extracted. These arrows he frequently sliot at 
Learning, when she was most earnestly or usefully 
employed, engaged in abstruse inquiries, or giving 
instructions to her followers. Minerva, therefore, 
deputed Criticism to her aid, who generally broke 
the point of Satire's arrows, turned them aside, or 
retorted them on himself. 

Jupiter was at last angry that the peace of the 
heavenly regions should be in perpetual danger of 
violation, and resolved to dismiss these troublesome 
antagonists to the lower world. Hither, therefore, 
they came, and carried on their ancient quarrel 
among mortals, nor was either long without zealous 
votaries. Wit, by his gayety, captivated the young; 
and Learning, by her authority, influenced the old. 
Their power quickly appeared by very eminent ef- 
fects, theatres were built for the reception of Wit, 

NO. 22. RAMBLER. 197 

and colleges endowed for the residence of Learning. 
Each party endeavoured to outvie the other in cost 
and magniticence, and to propagate an opinion, that 
it was necessary, from the first entrance into life, to 
enlist in one of the factions ; and that none could 
hope for the regard of either divinity, who had once 
entered the temple of the rival power. 

There were, indeed, a class of mortals, by whom 
Wit and Learning were equally disregarded ; these 
were the devotees of Plutus, the'god of riches; 
among these it seldom happened that the gayety of 
Wit could raise a smile, or the eloquence of Learn- 
ing procure attention. In revenge of this contempt 
they agreed to incite their followers against them ; 
but the forces that were sent on those expeditions 
frequently betrayed their trust; and, in contempt of 
the orders which they had received, flattered the 
rich in public while they scorned them in their 
hearts ; and when, by this treachery, they had ob- 
tained the favour of Plutus, affected to look with an 
air of superiority on those who still remained in the 
service of Wit and Learning. 

Disgusted with these desertions, the two rivals, 
at the same time, petitioned Jupiter for readraission 
to their native habitations. Jupiter thundered on 
the right hand, and they prepared to obey the happy 
summons. Wit readily spread his wings and soared 
aloft, but not being able to see far, was bewildered 
in the pathless immensity of the ethereal spaces. 
Learning, who knew the way, shook her pinions ; 
but for want of natural vigour could only take short 
flights ; so, after many efforts, they both sunk again 
to the ground, and learned, from their nnitual dis- 
tress, the necessity of union. They therefore joined 
their hands and renewed their flight; Learning was 
borne up by the vigour of Wit, and Wit guided by 

198 RAMBLER. NO. 23. 

the perspicacity of Learning. They soon reached 
the dwellings of Jupiter, and were so endeared to 
each other, that they lived afterwards in perpetual 
concord. Wit persuaded Learning to converse with 
the Graces, and Learning engaged Wit in the ser- 
vice of the Virtues. They were now the favourites 
of all the powers of heaven, and gladdened every 
banquet by their presence. They soon after mar- 
ried, at the command of Jupiter, and had a numer- 
ous progeny of Arts and Sciences. 

No. 23. TUESDAY, JUNE 5, 1750. 

Tres mihi convivce prope disseniire videntur ; 
Poscentes vario muUuni diversa palaio. 

HOK. EPIST. ii. 2. 61. 

Thi'ee guests I have, dissenting at my feast 

Requiring each to gratify his taste 

With different food. fbancis. 

That every man should regulate his actions by 
his own conscience, without any regard to the opin- 
ions of the rest of the world, is one of the first 
precepts of moral prudence ; justified not only by 
the suffrage of reason, which declares that none of 
the gifts of Heaven are to lie useless, but by the 
voice likewise of experience, which will soon inform 
us that, if we make the praise or blame of others 
the rule of our conduct, we shall be distracted by 
a boundless variety of irreconcilable judgments, 

NO. 23. RAMBLER. 199 

be held in perpetual suspense between contrary 
impulses, and consult forever without determination. 

I know not whether, for the same reason, it is not 
necessary for an author to place some confidence in 
his own skill, and to satisfy himself in the knowledge 
that he has not deviated from the established laws 
of composition, without submitting his works to fre- 
quent examinations before he gives them to the 
public, or endeavouring to secure success by a soli- 
citous conformity to advice and criticism. 

It is, indeed, quickly discoverable, that consulta- 
tion and comphance can conduce little to the perfec- 
tion of any literary performance ; for whoever is so 
doubtful of his own abilities as to encourage the re- 
marks of others, will find himself every day embar- 
rassed with new difficulties, and will harass his 
mind, in vain, with the hopeless labour of uniting 
heterogeneous ideas, digesting independent hints, 
and collecting into one point the several rays of 
borrowed light, emitted often with contrary di- 

Of all authors, those who retail their labours in 
periodical sheets would be most unhappy, if they 
were much to regard the censures or the admonitions 
of their readers ; for, as their works are not sent into 
the world at once, but by small parts in gradual suc- 
cession, it is always imagined, by those who think 
themselves qualified to give instructions, that they 
may yet redeem their former failings by hearkening 
to better judges, and supply the deficiencies of their 
plan, by the help of the criticisms which are so lib- 
erally afforded. 

I have had occasion to observe, sometimes with 
vexation, and sometimes with merriment, the differ- 
ent tem[)er with which the same man reads a print- 
ed and manuscript performance. When a book is 

200 RAMBLER. NO. 23. 

once in the hands of the public, it is considered as 
permanent and unaUerable ; and the reader, if he 
be free from personal prejudices-, takes it up with 
no other intention than of pleasing or instructing 
himself; he accommodates his mind to the author's 
design ; and, having no interest in refusing the 
amusement that is offered him, never interrupts his 
own tranquillity by studied cavils, or destroys his 
satisfaction in that which is already well, by an anx- 
ious mquiry how it might be better ; but is often 
contented without pleasure, and pleased without 

But if the same man be called to consider the 
merit of a production yet unpublished, he brings an 
imagination heated with objections to passages, 
which he has yet never heard ; he invokes all the 
power of criticism, and stores his memory with taste 
and grace, purity and delicacy, manners and uni- 
ties, sounds which, having been once uttered by 
those that understood them, have been since reechoed 
without meaning, and kept up to the disturbance of 
the world, by a constant repercussion from one cox- 
comb to another. He considers himself as obliged 
to show, by some proof of his abilities, that he is not 
consulted to no purpose, and, therefore, watches 
every opening for objection, and looks round for 
every opportunity to propose some specious altera- 
tion. Such opportunities a very small degree of 
sagacity will enable him to find ; for, in every work 
of imagination, the disposition of parts, the insertion 
of incidents, and use of decorations, may be varied 
a thousand ways with equal propriety ; and, as in 
things nearly equal, that will always seem best to 
every man which he himself produces, the critic, 
whose business is only to propose, without the care 
of execution, can never want the satisfaction of be- 

NO. 23. RAMBLER. 201 

Heving that he has suggested very important im- 
provements, nor the power of enforcing his advice 
by arguments, which as they appear convincing to 
himself, either his kindness or his vanity will press 
obstinately and importunately, without suspicion 
that he may possibly judge too hastily in favour of 
his own advice, or inquiry whether the advantage 
of the new scheme be proportionate to the labour. 

It is observed, by the younger Pliny, that an 
orator ouglit not so much to select the strongest ar- 
guments which his cause admits, as to employ all 
w^hich his imagination can afford; for, in pleading, 
those reasons are of most value, which will most 
affect the judges ; " and the judges," says he, " will 
be always most touched with that which they had 
before conceived." Every man who is called to 
give his opinion of a performance, decides upon the 
same principle ; he first suffers himself to form ex- 
pectations, and then is angry at his disappointment. 
He lets his imaj^ination rove at lar";e, and wonders 
that another, equally unconfined in the boundless 
ocean of possibility, takes a different course. 

But, though the rule of Pliny be judiciously laid 
down, it is not applicable to the wa-iter's cause, be- 
cause there always lies an appeal from domestic crit- 
icism to a higher judicature, and the public, which 
is never corrupted, nor often deceived, is to pass the 
last sentence upon literary claims. 

Of the great force of preconceived opinions I had 
many proofs, when I first entered upon this weekly 
labour. My readers having, from the performances 
of my predecessors, established an idea of uncon- 
nected essays, to which they believed all future 
authors under a necessity of conforming, were im- 
patient of the least deviation from their system, and 
numerous remonstrances were accordingly made by 

202 RAMBLER. NO. 23. 

each, as he found his favourite subject omitted or 
delayed. Some were angry that The Rambler did 
not, like The Spectator, introduce himself to the 
acquaintance of the public, by an account of his own 
birth and studies, an enumeration of his adventures, 
and a description of his physiognomy. Others soon 
began to remark that he was a solemn, serious, dic- 
tatorial writer, without sprightliness or gayety, and 
called out with vehemence for mirth and humour. 
Another admonished him to have a special eye upon 
the various clubs of this great city, and informed 
him that much of The Spectator's vivacity was laid 
out upon such assemblies. He has been censured 
for not imitating the politeness of his predecessors, 
havinor hitherto neglected to take the ladies under 
his protection, and give them rules for the just op- 
position of colours, and the proper dimensions of 
ruffles and pinners. He has been required by one 
to fix a particular censure upon those matrons 
who play at cards with spectacles ; and another is 
very much offended whenever he meets with a spec- 
ulation, in which naked precepts are comprised, 
without the illustration of examples and characters. 
I make not the least question that all these moni- 
tors intend the promotion of my design, and the in- 
struction of my readers ; but they do not know, or 
do not reflect, that an author has a rule of choic^e 
peculiar to himself; and selects those subjects which 
he is best qualified to treat, by the course of his 
studies, or the accidents of his life ; that some topics 
of amusement have been already treated with too 
much success to invite a competition ; and that he 
who endeavours to gain many readers must try vari- 
ous arts of invitation, essay every avenue of pleas- 
ure, and make frequent changes in his methods of 

NO. 24. 4 RAMBLER. 203 

I cannot but consider myself, amidst this tumult 
of criticism, as a ship in a, poetical tempest, impelled 
at the same time by opposite winds, and dashed by 
the waves from every quarter, but held upright by the 
contrariety of the assailants, and secured, in some 
measure, by multiplicity of distress. Had the opin- 
ion of my censurers been unanimous, it might, per- 
haps, have overset my resolution ; but, since I lind 
them at variance with each other, I can, without 
scruple, neglect them, and endeavour to gain the 
favour of the public by following the direction of 
my own reason, and indulging the sallies of my 
own imagination. 

No. 24. SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 1750. 

— Ntim in sese tentat descendere. — per3. sat. iv. 23. 
None, none descends into himself. dktden. 

Among the precepts, or aphorisms, admitted by 
general consent, and inculcated by frequent repeti' 
tion, there is none more famous amonsr the masters 
of ancient wisdom, than that compendious lesson, 
TvC)t9l aeavrdv, ' Be acquainted with thyself;' ascribed 
by some to an oracle, and by others to Chilo, of 

This is, indeed, a dictate, which, in the whole ex- 
tent of its meaning, may be said to comprise all the 
speculation requisite to a moral agent. For what 
more can be necessary to the regulation of life, than 

204 RAMBLER. NO. 24. 

the knowledge of our original, our end, our duties, 
and our relation to other beings ? 

It is, however, very improbable that the first au- 
thor, whoever he was, intended to be understood in 
this unlimited and complicated sense ; for of the 
inquiries, which in so large an acceptation it would 
seem to recommend, some are too extensive for the 
powers of man, and some require light from above, 
which was not yet indulged to the heathen world. 

We might have had more satisfaction concerning 
the original import of this celebrated sentence, if 
history had informed us, whether it was uttered as 
a general instruction to mankind, or as a particular 
caution to some private inquirer ; whether it was 
applied to some single occasion, or laid down as the 
universal rule of life. 

There will occur, upon the slightest consideration, 
many possible circumstances, in which this monition 
might very properly be enforced ; for every error in 
human conduct must arise from ignorance in our- 
selves, either perpetual or temporary ; and happen 
either because we do not know what is best and 
fittest, or because our knowledge is, at the time of 
action, not present to the mind. 

When a man employs himself upon remote and 
unnecessary subjects, and wastes his life upon ques- 
tions which cannot be resolved, and of which the 
solution would conduce very little to the advance- 
mem of happiness ; when he lavishes his hours in 
calculating the weight of the terraqueous globe, or 
in adjusting successive systems of worlds beyond the 
reach of the telescope ; he may be very properly 
recalled from his excursions by this precept, and 
reminded that there is a nearer Being with which 
it is his duty to be more acquainted ; and from which 
his attention has hitherto been withheld by studies, 

NO. 24. KAMBLER. 205 

to which he has no other motive than vanity or 

The great praise of Socrates is, that he drew the 
wits of Greece, by his instruction and example, from 
the vain pursuit of natural philosophy to moral in- 
quiries, and turned their thoughts from stars and 
tides, and matter and motion, upon the various modes 
of virtue and relations of life. All his lectures were 
but commentaries upon this saying; if we suppose 
the knowledge of ourselves recommended by Chilo, 
in opposition to other inquiries less suitable to the 
state of man. 

The great fault of men of learning is still, that 
they offend against this rule, and appear willing 
to study any thing rather than themselves ; for which 
reason they are often despised by those, with whom 
they imagine themselves above comparison ; despised, 
as useless to common purposes, as unable to con- 
duct the most trivial affairs, and unqualified to 
perform those offices by which the concatenation of 
society is preserved, and mutual tenderness excited 
and maintained. 

Gelidus is a man of great penetration, and deep 
researches. Having a mind naturally formed for 
the abstruser sciences, he can comprehend intricate 
combinations without confusion ; and being of a 
temper naturally cool and equal, he is seldom inter- 
rupted by his passions in the pursuit of the longest 
chain of unexpected consequences. He has, there- 
fore, a long time indulged hopes, that the solution 
of some problems, by which the professors of science 
have been hitherto bafHed, is reserved for his genius 
and industry. He spends his time in the highest 
room of his house, into which none of his family are 
suffered to enter ; and when he comes down to his 
dinner, or his rest, he walks about like a stranger 

206 RAMBLER. NO. 24. 

that is there only for a day, without any tokens of 
regard or tenderness. He has totally divested him- 
self of all human sensations : he has neither eye for 
beauty, nor ear for complaint ; he neither rejoices 
at the good fortune of his nearest friend, nor mourns 
for any public or private calamity. Having once 
received a letter, and given it to his servant to read, 
he was informed that it was written by his brother, 
who, being shipwrecked, had swum naked to land, 
and was destitute of necessaries in a foreign country. 
Naked and destitute ! says Gelidus ; reach down the 
last volume of meteorological observations, extract 
an exact account of the wind, and note it carefully 
in the diary of the weather.' 

The family of Gelidus once broke into his study, 
to show him that a town at a small distance was on 
fire, and in a few moments a servant came to tell 
him, that the flame had caught so many houses on 
both sides, that the inhabitants were confounded, and 
began to think of rather escaping with their lives, 
than saving their dwellings. ' What you tell me,' 
says Gelidus, 'is very probable, for fire naturally 
acts in a circle.' 

Thus lives this great philosopher, insensible to 
every spectacle of distress, and unmoved by the 
loudest call of social nature, for want of considering 
that men are designed for the succour and comfort 
of each other ; that though there are hours which 
may be laudably spent upon knowledge not imme- 
diately useful, yet the first attention is due to practi- 
cal virtue ; and that he may be justly driven out 
from the commerce of mankind, who has so far ab- 
stracted himself from the species, as to partake 
neither of the joys nor griefs of others, but neglects 
the endearments of his wife, and the caresses of his 
children, to count the drops of rain, note the changes 

NO. 24. RAMBLER. 207 

of the wind, and calculate the eclipses of the moons 
of Jupiter. 

I shall reserve to some future paper the religious 
and important meaning of this epitome of wisdom ; 
and only remark, that it may be applied to the gay 
and light, as well as to the grave and solemn parts 
of hfe ; and that not only the philosopher may for- 
feit his pretences to real learning, but the wit and 
the beauty may miscarry in their schemes, by the 
want of this universal requisite, the knowledge of 

It is surely for no other reason, that we see such 
numbers resolutely struggling against nature, and 
contending for that which they never can attain, en- 
deavouring to unite contradictions, and determined 
to excel in characters inconsistent with each other ; 
that stockjobbers affect dress, gayety, and elegance, 
and mathematicians labour to be wits ; that the sol- 
dier teases his acquaintance with questions in theol- 
ogy, and the academic hopes to divert the ladies by 
a recital of his gallantries. That absurdity of pride 
could proceed only from ignorance of themselves, 
by which Garth attempted criticism, and Congreve 
waved his title to dramatic reputation, and desired 
to be considered only as a gentleman. 

Euphues, with great parts, and extensive know- 
ledge, has a clouded aspect and ungracious form ; 
yet it has been his ambition, from his first entrance 
into life, to distinguish himself by particularities in 
his dress, to outvie beaux in embroidery, to import 
new trimmings, and to be foremost in the fashion. 
Euphues has turned on his exterior appearance that 
attention which would always have produced esteem 
had it been fixed upon his mind ; and though his 
virtues and abilities have preserved him from the 
contempt which he has so diligently solicited, he 

208 EAMBLER. NO. 25. 

has, at least, raised one impediment to his reputa- 
tion ; since all can judge of his dress, but few of his 
understanding ; and many who discern that he is a 
fop, are unwilUng to beUeve that he can be wise. 

There is one instance in which the ladies are par- 
ticularly unwilling to observe the rule of Chilo. 
They are desirous to hide from themselves the ad- 
vances of age, and endeavour too frequently to 
supply the sprightliness and bloom of youth by arti- 
ficial beauty and forced vivacity. They hope to in- 
flame the heart by glances which have lost their 
fire, or melt it by languor which is no longer deli- 
cate ; they play over the airs which pleased at a 
time when they were expected only to please, and 
forget that airs in time ought to give place to virtues. 
They continue to trifle, because they could once 
trifle agreeably, till those who shared their early 
j^leasures are withdrawn to more serious engage- 
ments ; and are scarcely awakened from their dream 
of perpetual youth, but by the scorn of those whom 
they endeavour to rival. 

No. 25. TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 1750. 

— Possunt, quia posse videntur. virg. m^. v. 231. 

For they can conquer who believe they can. dryden. 

There are some vices and errors which, though 
often fatal to those in whom they are found, have 

NO. 25. RAMBLER. 209 

yet, by the universal consent of mankind, been con- 
sidered as entitled to some degree of respect, or 
have, at least, been exempted from contemptuous 
infamy, and condemned by the severest moralists- 
with pity rather than detestation. 

A constant and invariable example of this general 
partiality will be found in the different regard which 
has always been shown to rashness and cowardice, 
two vices, of which, though they may be conceived 
equally distant from the middle point, where true 
fortitude is placed, and may equally injure any 
public or private interest, yet the one is never men- 
tioned without some kind of veneration, and the 
other always considered 'as a topic of unlimited and 
licentious censure, on which all the virulence of re- 
proach may be lawfully exerted. 

The same distinction is made, by the common 
suffrage, between profusion and avarice, and, per- 
haps, between many other opposite vices ; and, as I 
have found reason to pay great regard to the voice 
of the people in cases where knowledge has been 
forced upon them by experience, without long de- 
ductions or deep researches, I am inclined to believe 
that this distribution of respect is not without some 
agreement with the nature of things ; and that in 
the faults, which are thus invested with extraordi- 
nary privileges, there are generally some latent prin- 
ciples of merit, some possibilities of future virtue, 
which may, by degrees, break from obstruction, 
and by time and 0})portunity be brought into act. 

It may be laid down as an axiom, that it is more 
easy to take away superfluities than to suj)ply de- 
fects ; and, therefore, he that is culpable, because 
he has passed the middle point of virtue, is always 
accounted a fairer object of hope, than he who fails 
by falling short. The one has all that perfection 

VOL. XVI. 14 

210 RAMBLER. NO. 25. 

requires, and more, but the excess may be easily re- 
trenched ; the other wants the qualities requisite to 
excellence, and who can tell how he shall obtain 
them ? We are certain that the horse may be taught 
to keep pace with his fellows, whose fault is that 
he leaves them behind. We know that a few strokes 
of the axe will lop a cedar ; but what arts of culti- 
vation can elevate a shrub ? 

To walk with circumspection and steadiness in 
the right path, at an equal distance between the 
extremes of error, ought to be the constant en- 
deavour of every reasonable being ; nor can I think 
those teachers of moral wisdom much to be honoured 
as benefactors to mankind, who are always enlarg- 
ing upon the difficulty of our duties, and providing 
rather excuses for vice, than Incentives to virtue. 

But, since to most it will happen often, and to all 
sometimes, that there will be a deviation towards 
one side or the other, we ought always to employ 
our vigilance, with most attention, on that enemy 
from which there is the greatest danger, and to 
stray, if we must stray, towards those parts from 
whence we may quickly and easily return. 

Among other opposite qualities of the mind which 
may become dangerous, though in different degrees, 
I have often had occasion to consider the contrary 
eff"ects of presumption and despondency ; of heady 
confidence, which promises victory without contest, 
and heartless pusillanimity, wdilch shrinks back from 
the thought of great undertakings, confounds diffi- 
culty with Impossibility, and considers all advance- 
ment towards any new attainment as irreversibly 


Presumption will be easily corrected. Every ex- 
periment will teach caution, and miscarriages will 
liourly show, that attempts are not always rewarded 

NO. 25. RAMBLER. 211 

with success. The most precipitate ardour will, in 
time, be taught the necessity of methodical gradation 
and preparatory measures ; and the most daring con- 
fidence be convinced that neither merit, nor abilities, 
can command events. 

It is the advantage of vehemence and activity, 
that they are always hastening to their own refor- 
mation ; because they incite us to try whether our 
expectations are well grounded, and, therefore, de- 
tect the deceits which they are apt to occasion. But 
timidity is a disease of the mind more obstinate and 
fatal ; for a man once persuaded that any impedi- 
ment is insuperable, has given it, with respect to 
himself, that strength and weight which it had not 
before. He can scarcely strive with vigour and 
perseverance, when he has no hope of gaining the 
victory; and since he never will try his strength, 
can never discover the unreasonableness of his fears. 

There is often to be found in men devoted to lit- 
erature, a kind of intellectual cowardice, which, 
whoever converses much among them, may observe 
frequently to depress the alacrity of enterprise, and, 
by consequence, to retard the improvement of 
science. They have annexed to every species of 
knowledge some chimerical character of terror and 
inhibition, which they transmit, without much reflec- 
tion, from one to another ; they first fright them- 
selves, and then propagate the panic to their scholars 
and acquaintance. One study is inconsistent with 
a lively imagination, another with a solid judgment ; 
one is improper in the early parts of life, another 
requires so much time, that it is not to be attempted 
at an advanced age ; one is dry and contracts the 
sentiments, another is diffuse and overburdens the 
memory ; one is insufferable to taste and delicacy, 
and another wears out life in the study of words, 

212 RAMBLER. NO. 25, 

and is useless to a wise man, who desires only the 
knowledge of things. 

But of all the bugbears by which the Infantes 
harhati, boys both young and old, have been hitherto 
frif>-hted from digressing into new tracts of learning, 
none has been more mischievously efficacious than 
an opinion that every kind of knowledge requires a 
pecuUar genius, or mental constitution, framed for 
the reception of some ideas, and the exclusion of 
others; and that to him whose genius is not adapted 
to the study which he prosecutes, all labour shall be 
vain and fruitless, vain as an endeavour to mingle 
oil and water, or, in the language of chemistry, to 
amalgamate bodies of heterogeneous principles. 

This opinion we may reasonably suspect to have 
been propagated, by vanity, beyond the truth. It is 
natural for those who have raised a reputation by 
any science, to exalt themselves as endowed by 
Heaven with pecuhar powers, or marked out by an 
extraordinary designation for their profession ; and 
to frio-ht competitors away by representing the dith- 
cultiel with which they must contend, and the ne- 
cessity of qualities which are supposed to be not 
generally conferred, and which no man can know, 
but by experience, whether he enjoys. 

To this discouragement it may be possibly an- 
wered, that since a genius, whatever it be, is like 
fire in the flint, only to be produced by colhsion with 
a proper subject, it is the business of every man to 
try whether his facuUies may not happily cooperate 
with his desires ; and since they whose proficiency 
he admires, knew their own force only by the event, 
he needs but engage in the same undertaking with 
equal spirit, and may reasonably hope for equal 

success. ^ ^ , . . IT 

There is another species of false intelhgence, 

NO. 25. RAMBLER. 213 

given by those who profess to show the way to the 
summit of knowledge, of equal tendency to depress 
the mind with false distrust of itself, and weaken it 
by needless solicitude and dejection. When a 
scholar whom they desire to animate, consults them 
at his entrance on some new study, it is common to 
make flattering representations of its pleasantness 
and facility. Thus they generally attain one of two 
ends almost equally desirable; they either incite 
his industry by elevating his hopes, or produce a 
high opinion of their own abilities, since they are 
supposed to relate only what they have found, and 
to have proceeded with no less ease than they prom- 
ise to their followers. 

The student, inflamed by this encouragement, sets 
forward in the new path, and proceeds a few steps 
with great alacrity, but he soon finds asperities and 
intricacies of which he has not been forewarned, 
and imagining that none ever were so entangled or 
fatigued before him, sinks suddenly into despair, 
and desists as from an expedition in M'hicli fate op- 
poses him. Thus his terrors are multiplied by his 
hopes, and he is defeated without resistance because 
he had no expectation of an enemy. 

Of these treacherous instructors, the one destroys 
industry, by declaring that industry is vain, the other 
by representing it as needless ; the one cuts away 
the root of hope, the other raises it only to be 
blasted. The one confines his pupil to the shore, 
by telling him that his wreck is certain, the other 
sends him to sea, without preparing him for tempests. 

False hopes and false terrors are equally to be 
avoided. Every man who proposes to grow eminent 
by learning, should carry in his mind, at once, the 
diflSculty of excellence, and the force of industry; 
and remember that fame is not conferred but as the 

214 RAMBLER. NO. 26. 

recompense of labour, and that labour, vigorously 
continued, has not often failed of its reward. 

No. 26. SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 1750. 

Inqentes dominos, et darce nomina fam(B, 

'llluatnque graves nobilltate domos 
Devita, et longe cautus fuge : contrahe vela, 

Et te littoribus cymbaj^ropinqua vehat. senega. 

Each mighty lord, big with a pompous name, 
And each high house of fortune and of fame, 
"With caution fly ; contract thy ample sails, 
And near the shore improve the gentle gales. 


" It is usual for men, engaged in the same pur- 
suits, to be inquisitive after the conduct and fortune 
of each other ; and, therefore, I suppose it will not 
be unpleasing to you, to read an account of the vari- 
ous changes which have happened in part of a life 
devoted to literature. My narrative will not ex- 
hibit any great variety of events, or extraordinary 
revolutions ; but may, perhaps, be not less useful, 
because I shall relate nothing which is not likely to 
happen to a thousand others. 

" I was born heir to a very small fortune, and 
left by my father, whom I cannot remember, to the 
care of an uncle. He having no children, always 
treated me as his son, and finding in me those qual- 
ities which old men easily discover in sprightly 

NO. 26. RAMBLER. 215 

cliildren, when they happen to love them, declared 
that a genius like mine should never be lost for want 
of cultivation. He therefore placed me, for the 
usual time, at a great scliool, and then sent me to 
the university, with a larger allowance than my own 
patrimony would have afforded, that I might not 
keep mean company, but learn to become my dig- 
nity when I should be made lord chancellor, which 
he often lamented that the increase of his infirmities 
was very likely to preclude him from seeing. 

" This exuberance of money displayed itself in 
gayety of appearance and wantonness of expense, 
and introduced me to the acquaintance of those 
whom the same superfluity of fortune betrayed to 
the same license and ostentation : young heirs, who 
pleased themselves with a remark very frequent in 
their mouths, that though they were sent by their 
fathers to the university, they were not under the 
necessity of living by their learning. 

" Among men of this class I easily obtained the 
reputation of a great genius, and was persuaded, 
that with such liveliness of imagination, and delicacy 
of sentiment, I should never be able to submit to 
the drudgery of the law. I therefore gave myself 
wholly to the more airy and elegant parts of learn- 
ing, and was often so much elated with my supe- 
riority to the youths with whom I conversed, that I 
began to listen, with great attention, to those that 
recommended to me a wider and more conspicuous 
theatre ; and was particularly touched with an ob- 
servation, made by one of my friends : ' That it was 
not by lingering in the university that Prior became 
ambassador, or Addison secretary of state.' 

" This desire was hourly increased by the solici- 
tation of my companions, who removing one by one 
to London, as the caprice of their relations allowed 

216 RAMBLER. NO. 26. 

them, or the legal dismission from the hands of their 
guardians put in their power, never failed to send 
an account of the beauty and felicity of the new 
world, and to remonstrate how much was lost by 
every hour's continuance in a place of retirement 
and constraint. 

" My uncle in the mean time frequently harassed 
me with monitory letters, which I sometimes neg- 
lected to open for a week after I received them, and 
generally read in a tavern, with such comments as 
might show how much I was superior to instruction 
or advice. I could not but wonder how a man con- 
fined to the country, and unacquainted with the 
present system of things, should imagine himself 
qualified to instruct a rising genius, born to give 
laws to the age, refine its taste, and multiply its 

" The postman, however, still continued to bring 
me new remonstrances ; for my uncle was very little 
depressed by the ridicule and reproach which he 
never heard. But men of parts have quick resent- 
ments ; it was impossible to bear his usurpations for- 
ever ; and I resolved, once for all, to make him an 
example to those who imagine themselves wise be- 
cause they are old, and to teach young men, who 
are too tame under representation, in what manner 
graybearded insolence ought to be treated. I there- 
fore one evening took my pen in hand, and after 
having animated myself with a catch, wrote a gen- 
eral answer to all his precepts, with such vivacity 
of turn, such elegance of irony, and such asperity 
of sarcasm, that I convulsed a large company with 
universal laughter, disturbed the neighbourhood with 
vociferations of applause, and five days afterwards 
was answered, that I must be content to live on my 
own estate. 

NO. 26. RAMBLER. 217 

" This contraction of my income gave me no dis- 
turbance, for a genius like mine was out of the reach 
of want. I had friends that would be proud to open 
their purses at my call, and prospects of such ad- 
vancement as would soon reconcile my uncle, whom, 
upon mature deliberation, 1 resolved to receive into 
favour, without insisting on any acknowledgment 
of his offence, when the splendour of my condition 
should induce him to wish for my countenance. I 
therefore went up to London, before I had shown 
the alteration of my condition by any abatement 
of my way of living, and was received by all my 
academical acquaintance with triumph and congrat- 
ulation. I was immediately introduced among the 
wits and men of spirit ; and in a short time had 
divested myself of all my scholar's gravity, and ob- 
tained the reputation of a pretty fellow. 

"You will easily believe that I had no great 
knowledge of the world ; yet I had been hindered, 
by the general disinclination every man feels to con- 
fess poverty, from telling to any one the resolution 
of my uncle, and for some time subsisted upon the 
stock of money which I had brought with me, and 
contributed my share, as before, to all our entertain- 
ments. But my pocket was soon emptied, and I 
was obliged to ask my friends for a small sum. This 
was a favour which we had often reciprocally re- 
ceived from one another ; they supposed my wants 
only accidental, and therefore willingly supplied 
them. In a short time I found a necessity of asking 
again, and was again treated with the same civility ; 
but the third time they began to wonder what that 
old rogue, my uncle, could mean by sending a gentle- 
man to town without money ; and when they gave 
what I asked for, advised me to stipulate for more 
regular remittances. 

218 RAMBLER. NO. 26. 

" This somewhat disturbed my dream of constant 
affluence, but I was three days after completely 
awaked ; for entering the tavern, where we met 
every evening, I found the waiters remitted their 
complaisance, and, instead of contending to light me 
up stairs, suffered me to wait for some minutes by 
the bar. When I came to my company, I found 
them unusually grave and formal, and one of them 
took the hint to turn the conversation upon the mis- 
conduct of young men, and enlarged upon the folly 
of frequenting the company of men of fortune, with- 
out being able to support the expense, an observa- 
tion which the rest contributed either to enforce by 
repetition, or to illustrate by examples. Only one 
of them tried to divert the discourse, and endeav- 
oured to direct my attention to remote questions and 
"common topics. 

" A man guilty of poverty easily believes himself 
suspected ; I went, however, next morning to break- 
fast with him who appeared ignorant of the drift of 
the conversation, and by a series of inquiries, draw- 
ing still nearer to the point, prevailed on him, not, 
perhaps, much against his will, to inform me, that 
Mr. Dash, whose father was a wealthy attorney near 
my native place, had, the morning before, received 
an account of my uncle's resentment, and communi- 
cated his intelligence with the utmost industry of 
grovelling insolence. 

" It was now no longer practicable to consort with 
my former friends, unless I would be content to be 
used as an inferior guest, who was to pay for his 
wine by mirth and flattery ; a character which, if I 
could not escape it, I resolved to endure only among 
those who had never known me in the pride of 
plenty. I changed my lodgings, and frequented the 
coffee-houses in a different region of the town ; where 

NO. 26. 11 AMBLER. 219 

I was very quickly distinguished by several youno- 
gentlemen of liigh birth and large estates, and beo-an 
again to amuse my imagination with hopes of pre- 
ferment, though not quite so confidently as when I 
had less experience. 

" The first great conquest which this new scene 
enabled me to gain over myself was, when I sub- 
mitted to confess to a party, who invited me to an 
expensive diversion, that my revenues were not 
equal to such golden pleasures ; they would not 
suffer me, however, to stay behind, and with great 
reluctance I yielded to be treated. I took that op- 
portunity of recommending myself to some office or 
employment, which they unanimously promised to 
procure me by their joint interest. 

"I had now entered into a state of dependence, 
and had hopes, or fears, from almost every man I 
saw. If it be unhappy to have one patron, what is 
his misery who has many? I was obliged to comply 
with a thousand caprices, to concur in a thousand 
follies, and to countenance a thousand errors. I 
endured innumerable mortifications, if not from 
cruelty, at least from negligence, which will creep 
in upon the kindest and most delicate minds, when 
they converse without the mutual awe of equal con- 
dition. I found the spirit and vigour of liberty every 
moment sinking in me, and a servile fear of displeas- 
ing, stealing by degrees upon all my behaviour, till 
no word, or look, or action, was my own. As the 
solicitude to please increased, the power of pleasing 
grew less, and I was always clouded with diffi- 
dence where it was most my interest and wish to 

"My patrons, considering me as belonging to the 
community, and, therefore, not the charge of any 
particular person, made no scruple of neglecting 

220 KAMBLER. NO. 27. 

any opportunity of promoting me, which every one 
thought more properly the business of another. An 
account of my expectations and disappointments, and 
the succeeding vicissitudes of my life, I shall give in 
my following letter, which will be, I hope, of use to 
show how ill he forms his schemes, who expects 
happiness without freedom. 

" I am," &c. 

No. 27. TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 1750. 

— Pauperiem veritus, jiotior metalUs 
lAhertate caret. — hok. epist. i. 10. 31. 

So he, who poverty with horror views, 

Who sells his freedom iu exchange for gold, 

Freedom for mines of wealth too cheaply sold, 

Shall make eternal servitude his fate, 

And feel a haughty master's galling weight, francis. 


"As it is natural for every man to think himself 
of importance, your knowledge of the world will in- 
cline you to forgive me, if I imagine your curiosity 
so much excited by the former part of my narra- 
tion, as to make you desire that I should proceed 
without any unnecessary arts of connection. I 
shall, therefore, not keep you any longer in sus- 
pense, as, perhaps, my performance may not com- 

"In the gay company with which I was now 

NO. 27. KAMBLEK. 221 

united, I found those allurements and delights, 
which the friendship of young men always affords ; 
there was that openness which naturally produced 
confidence, that affability which, in some measure, 
softened dependence, and that ardour of profession 
which incited hope. When our hearts were dilated 
with merriment, promises were poured out with 
unlimited profusion, and life and fortune were but 
a scanty sacrifice to friendship ; but wlien the hour 
came, at which any effort was to be made, I had 
generally the vexation to find that my interest 
weighed nothing against the slightest amusement, 
and that every petty avocation was found a suffi- 
cient plea for continuing me in uncertainty and 
want. Their kindness was, indeed, sincere ; when 
they promised, they had no intention to deceive ; 
but the same juvenile warmth which kindled their 
benevolence, gave force in the same proportion to 
every other passion, and I was forgotten as soon as 
any new pleasure seized on their attention. 

" Vagario told me one evening, that all my per- 
plexities should be soon at an end, and desired me, 
from that instant, to throw upon him all care of my 
fortune, for a post of considerable value was that 
day become vacant, and he knew his interest suffi- 
cient to procure it in the morning. He desired me 
to call on him early, that he might be dressed soon 
enough to wait on the minister before any other 
application should be made. I came as he appoint- 
ed, with all the flame of gratitude, and was told by 
his servant, that having found at his lodgings, when 
he came home, an acquaintance who was going to 
travel, he had been persuaded to accompany him to 
Dover, and that they had taken post-horses two 
hours before day. 

" I was once very near to preferment, by the kind- 

222 RAMBLER. NO. 27. 

ness of Charinus, who, at my request, went to beg a 
place, which he thought me likely to fill with great 
reputation, and in which I should have many oppor- 
tunities of promoting his interest in return ; and he 
pleased himself with imagining the mutual benefits 
that we should confer, and the advances that we 
should make by our united strength. Away, there- 
fore, he went, equally warm with friendship and 
ambition, and left me to prepare acknowledgments 
against his return. At length he came back, and 
told me he had met in his way a party going to 
breakfast in the country, that the ladies importuned 
him too much to be refused, and that, having passed 
the morning with them, he was come back to dress 
himself for a ball, to which he was invited for the 


"I have suffered several disappointments from 
tailors and periwig-makers, who by neglecting to 
perform their work withheld my patrons from court ; 
and once failed of an establishment for life by the 
delay of a servant, sent to a neighbouring shop to 
replenish a snuffbox. 

" At last, I thought my solicitude at an end, for an 
office fell into the gift of Hippodamus's father, who 
being then in the country, could not very speedily 
fill it, and whose fondness would not have suffered 
him to refuse his son a less reasonable request. 
Hippodamus, therefore, set forward with great ex- 
pedition, and I expected every hour an account of 
his success. A long time I waited without any in- 
telliffence, but at last received a letter from New- 
market, by which I was informed that the races 
were begun, and I knew the vehemence of his pas- 
sions too well to imagine that he could refuse him- 
self his favourite amusement. 

" You will not wonder that T was at last weary 

NO. 27. RAMBLER. 223 

of the patronage of young men, especially as I found 
them not generally to promise much greater fidelity 
as they advanced in life ; for I observed that what 
they gained in steadiness they lost in benevolence, 
and grew colder to my interest as they became more 
diligent to promote their own. I was convinced 
that their liberality was only profuseness, that, as 
chance directed, they were equally generous to vice 
and virtue, that they were warm but because they 
were thoughtless, and counted the support of a friend 
only amongst other gratifications of passion. 

"My resolution was now to ingratiate myself 
with men whose reputation was established, whose 
high stations enabled them to prefer me, and whose 
age exempted them from sudden changes of inclina- 
tion. I was considered as a man of parts, and, 
therefore, easily found admission to the table of 
Hilarius, the celebrated orator, renowned equally 
for the extent of his knowledge, the elegance of his 
diction, and the acuteness of his wit. Hilarius re- 
ceived me with an appearance of great satisfaction, 
produced to me all his friends, and directed to me 
that part of his discourse in which he most endeav- 
oured to display his imagination. I had now learned 
my own interest enough to supply him opportuni- 
ties for smart remarks and gay sallies, which I 
never failed to echo and applaud. Thus I was 
gaining every hour on his affections, till unfortu- 
nately, when the assembly was more splendid than 
usual, his desire of admiration prompted him to turn 
his raillery upon me. I bore it for some time with 
great submission, and success encouraged him to 
redouble his attacks ; at last my vanity prevailed 
over my prudence, I retorted his irony with such 
spirit, that Hilarius, unaccustomed to resistance, was 
disconcerted, and soon found means of convincing 

224 RAMBLER. NO. 27. 

me that his purpose was not to encourage a rival, 
but to foster a parasite. 

"I was then taken into the familiarity of Argutio, 
a nobleman eminent for judgment and criticism. He 
had contributed to my reputation by the praises 
which he had often bestowed upon my writings, in 
which he owned that there were proofs of a genius 
that might rise to high degrees of excellence, when 
time, or information, had reduced its exuberance. 
He, therefore, required me to consult him before 
the publication of any new performance, and com- 
monly proposed innumerable alterations, without 
sufficient attention to the general design, or regard 
to my form of style and mode of imagination. But 
these corrections he never failed to press as indis- 
pensably necessary, and thought the least delay of 
compliance an act of rebellion. The pride of an 
author made this treatment insufferable, and I 
thought any tyranny easier to be borne than that 
which took from me the use of my understanding. 

" My next patron was Eutyches, the statesman, 
who was wholly engaged in public affairs, and 
seemed to have no ambition but to be powerful and 
rich. I found his favour more permanent than that 
of the others, for there was a certain price at which 
it might be bought ; he allowed nothing to humour, 
or to affection, but was always ready to pay liber- 
ally for the service that he required. His demands 
were, indeed, very often such as virtue could not 
easily consent to gratify ; but virtue is not to be 
consulted when men are to raise their fortunes by 
the favour of the great. His measures were cen- 
sured ; I wrote in his defence, and was recompensed 
with a place, of which the profits were never re- 
ceived by me without the pangs of remembering 
that they were the reward of wickedness, a reward 

NO. 28. RAMBLER. 225 

which nothing but that necessity which the consump- 
tion of my Httle estate in these wild pursuits had 
brought upon me, hindered me from throwing back 
in the face of my corruptor. 

" At this time my uncle died without a will, and 
I became heir to a small fortune. I had resolution 
to throw of the splendour which reproached me to 
myself, and retire to a humbler state, in which I 
am now endeavouring to recover the dignity of 
virtue, and hope to make some reparation for my 
crime and follies, by informing others, who may be 
led after the same pageants, that they are about to 
engage in a course of life, in which they are to 
purchase, by a thousand miseries, the privilege of 

. " I am, &c., 


No. 28. SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 1750. 

llli mors gravis incubnt, 

Qui, notus nimis omnibus, 

Ignotus inoritur sibi. SENECA. 

To him, alas ! to him, I fear, 

The face of death will terrible appear, 

Who in his life, fiatt'ring his senseless pride, 

By being known to all the world beside. 

Does not himself, when he is dying, know, 

Nor what he is, nor whither he 's to go. cowlet. * 

I HAVE shown, in a late essay, to what errors 
men are hourly betrayed by a mistaken opinion of 

VOL. XVI. 15 

226 RAMBLER. NO. 28. 

their own powers, and a negligent inspection of their 
own character. But as I then confined my obser- 
vations to common occurrences and familiar scenes, 
I think it proper to inquire, how far a nearer ac- 
quaintance with ourselves is necessary to our pres- 
ervation from crimes as well as follies, and how 
much the attentive study of our own minds may 
contribute to secure to us the approbation of that 
Being, to whom we are accountable for our thoughts 
and our actions, and whose favour must finally con- 
stitute our total happiness. 

If it be reasonable to estimate the difficulty of 
any enterprise by frequent miscarriages, it may 
justly be concluded that it is not easy for a man to 
know himself; for wheresoever we turn our view, 
we shall find almost all with whom we converse so 
nearly as to judge of their sentiments, indulging 
more favourable conceptions of their own virtue 
than they have been able to impress upon others, 
and congratulating themselves upon degrees of ex- 
cellence, which their fondest admirers cannot allow 
them to have attained. 

Those representations of imaginary virtue are 
generally considered as arts of hypocrisy, and as 
snares laid for confidence and praise. But I believe 
the suspicion often unjust ; those who thus propagate 
their own reputation, only extend the fraud by 
which they have been themselves deceived ; for this 
failing is incident to numbers, who seem to live with- 
out designs, competitions, or pursuits ; it appears on 
occasions which promise no accession of honour or 
of profit, and to persons from whom very little is to 
be hoped or feared. It is, indeed, not easy to tell 
how far we may be blinded by the love of ourselves, 
when we reflect how much a secondary passion can 
cloud our judgment, and how few faults a man, in 

NO. 28. RAMBLER. 227 

the first raptures of love, can discover in the person 
or conduct of his mistress. 

To lay open all the sources from which error 
flows in upon him who contemplates his own char- 
acter, would require more exact knowledge of the 
human heart, than, perhaps, the most acute and 
laborious observers have acquired. And since 
falsehood may be diversified without end, it is not 
unlikely that every man admits an imposture in 
some respect peculiar to himself, as his views have 
been accidentally directed, or his ideas particularly 

Some fallacies, however, there are, more fre- 
quently insidious, which it may, perhaps, not be 
useless to detect, because, though they are gross, 
they may be fatal, and because nothing but atten- 
tion is necessary to defeat them. 

One sophism by which men persuade themselves 
that they have those virtues which they really want, 
is formed by the substitution of single acts for hab- 
its. A miser who once relieved a friend from the 
danger of a prison, suffers his imagination to dwell 
forever upon his own heroic generosity ; he yields 
his heart up to indignation at those who are blind 
to merit or insensible to misery, and who can please 
themselves with the enjoyment of that wealth which 
they never permit others to partake. From any 
censures of the world, or reproaches of his con- 
science, he has an appeal to action and to knowledge ; 
and though his whole life is a course of rapacity and 
avarice, he concludes himself to be tender and 
liberal, because he has once performed an act of 
liberality and tenderness. 

As a glass whicli magnifies objects by the ap- 
proach of one end to the eye, lessens them by the 
application of the other ; so vices are extenuated by 

228 RAMBLER. NO. 28. 

the inversion of that fallacy, by which virtues are 
augmented. Those faults which we cannot conceal 
from our own notice, are considered, however fre- 
quent, not as habitual corruptions or settled prac- 
tices, but as casual failures, and single lapses. A 
man who has, from year to year, set his country to 
sale, either for the gratification of his ambition or 
resentment, confesses that the heat of party now and 
then betrays the severest virtue to measures that 
cannot be seriously defended. He that spends his 
days and night in riot and debauchery, owns that 
his passions oftentimes overpower his resolution. 
But each comforts himself that his faults are not 
without precedent, for the best and the wisest men 
have given way to the violence of sudden tempta- 

There are men who always confound the praise 
of goodness with the practice, and who believe 
themselves mild and moderate, charitable and faith- 
ful, because they have exerted their eloquence in 
commendation of mildness, fidelity, and other vir- 
tues. This is an error almost universal among those 
that converse much with dependents, with such 
whose fear or interest disposes them to a seeming 
reverence for any declamation, however enthusiastic, 
and submission to any boast, however arrogant. 
Having none to recall their attention to their lives, 
they rate themselves by the goodness of their opin- 
ions, and forget how much more easily men may 
show their virtue in their talk than in their actions. 

The tribe is likewise very numerous of those who 
regulate their lives, not by the standard of religion, 
but the measure of other men's virtue ; who lull their 
own remorse with the remembrance of crimes more 
atrocious than their own, and seem to believe that 
they are not bad while another can be found worse. 

NO. 28. RAMBLER. 229 

For escaping these and a thousand other deceits, 
many expedients have been proposed. Some have 
recommended the frequent consuUation of a wise 
friend, admitted to intimacy, and encouraged to 
sincerity. But this appears a remedy by no means 
adapted to general use: for in order to secure the 
virtue of one, it presupposes more virtue in two than 
will generally be found. In the first, such a desn^e 
of rectitude and amendment, as may incline him to 
hear his own accusation from the mouth of him whom 
he esteems, and by whom, therefore, he will always 
hope that his faults are not discovered ; and m the 
second, such zeal and honesty, as will make him 
content for his friend's advantage to lose his kind- 

A long life may be passed without finding a friend 
in whose" understanding and virtue we can equally 
confide, and whose opinion we can value at once for 
its justness and sincerity. A weak man, however 
honest, is not qualified to judge. A man of the 
world, however penetrating, is not fit to counsel. 
Friends are often chosen for similitude of manners, 
and therefore each palliates the other's failings, be- 
cause they are his own. Friends are tender, and 
unwilling to give pain, or they are interested, and 
fearful to offend. 

These objections have inclined others to advise, 
that he who would know himself, should consult his 
enemies, remember the reproaches that are vented 
to his face, and listen for the censures that are ut- 
tered in private. For his great business is to know 
his fauhs, and those malignity will discover, and 
resentment will reveal. But this precept may be 
often frustrated ; for it seldom happens that rivals or 
opponents are suffered to come near enough to know 
our conduct with so much exactness as that con- 



science should aOow and reflect the accusation. The 
charge of an enemy is often totally false, and com- 
monly so mingled with falsehood, that the mind 
takes advantage from the failure of one part to dis- 
credit the rest, and never suffers any disturbance 
afterward from such partial reports. 

Yet it seems that enemies have been always found 
by experience the most faithful monitors ; for adver- 
sity has ever been considered as the state in which 
a man most easily becomes acquainted with him- 
self, and this etfect it must produce by withdrawing 
flatterers, whose business it is to hide our weak- 
nesses from us, or by giving loose to mahce, and 
license to reproach ; or at least by cutting off those 
pleasures which called us away from meditation 
on our conduct, and repressing that pride which 
too easily persuades us, that we merit whatever we 

Part of these benefits it is in every man's power 
to procure to himself, by assigning proper portions 
of his life to the examination of the rest, and by 
putting himself frequently in such a situation by 
retirement and abstraction, as may weaken the 
influence of external objects. By this practice, he 
may obtain the solitude of adversity without its 
melancholy, its instructions without its censures, and 
its sensibility without its perturbations. 

The necessity of setting the world at a distance 
from us, when we are to take a survey of ourselves, 
has sent many from high stations to the severities of 
a monastic life ; and indeed, every man deeply en- 
gaged in business, if all regard to another state be 
not extinguished, must have the conviction, though, 
perhaps, not the resolution of Valdesso, who, when 
he solicited Charles the Fifth to dismiss him, being 
asked, whether he retired upon disgust, answered 

NO. 28. RAMBLER. 231 

that he laid down his commission for no other rea- 
son but because there ought to be some time for 
sober reflection between the life of a soldier and his 

There are few conditions which do not entangle 
us with sublunary hopes and fears, from which it is 
necessary to be at intervals disincumbered, that 
we may place ourselves in his presence who views 
effects in their causes, and actions in their motives ; 
that we may, as Chillingworth expresses it, consider 
things as if there were no other beings in the world 
but God and ourselves ; or, to use language yet 
more awful, may ' commune with our own hearts, 
and be still.' 

Death, says Seneca, falls heavy upon him who is 
too much known to others, and too little to himself; 
and Pontanus, a man celebrated among the early 
restorers of literature, thought the study of our own 
hearts of so much importance, that he has recom- 
mended it from his tomb. Sum Joannes Jovianus 
Pontanus, quern amaveruM honce imiscE, suspexerunt 
viri prohi, honestaverunt reges domini ; jam sets qui 
Sim, vel qui potius fuerim ; ego vero te, hospes, noscere 
in tenehris nequeo, sed teipsum ut noscas rogo. ' I 
am Pontanus, beloved by the powers of literature, 
admired by men of worth, and dignified by the mon- 
archs of the world. Thou knowest now who I am, 
or more properly, who I was. For thee, stranger, I 
who am in darkness cannot know thee, but I entreat 
thee to know thyself.' 

I hope every reader of this paper will consider 
himself as engaged to the observation of a precept, 
which the wisdom and virtue of all ages have con- 
curred to enforce, a precept dictated by philosophers, 
inculcated by poets, and ratified by saints. 

232 RAMBLER. NO. 29- 

No. 29. TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 1750. 

Prudens futuri temporis exitum 
CaUginosa node pr emit deus, 
Rkleique, si mortalis ultra 

Fas trepidat. — HOR. CAR. iii. 29. 29. 

But God has wisely hid from human sight 
The dark decrees of future fate, 

And sown their seeds in depth of night; 
He laughs at all the giddy turns of state, 
When mortals search too soon, and fear too late. 


There is nothing recommended with greater 
frequency among the gayer poets of antiquity, than 
the secure possession of the present hour, and the 
dismission of all the cares which intrude upon our 
quiet, or hinder, by importunate perturbations, the 
enjoyment of those delights which our condition 
happens to set before us. 

The ancient poets are, indeed, by no means mi- 
exceptionable teachers of morality ; their precepts 
are to be always considered as the sallies of a genius, 
intent rather upon giving pleasure than instruction, 
eager to take every advantage of insinuation, and, 
provided the passions can be engaged on its side, 
very little solicitous about the suffrage of reason. 

The darkness and uncertainty through which the 
heathens were compelled to wander in the pursuit 
of happiness, may, indeed, be alleged as an excuse 
for many of their seducing invitations to immediate 
enjoyment, which the moderns, by whom they have 
been imitated, have not to plead. It is no wonder 

NO. 29. RAMBLER. 233 

that such as had no promise of another state should 
eagerly turn their thoughts upon the improvement 
of that which was before them ; but surely those 
who are acquainted with the hopes and fears of 
eternity, might think it necessary to put some 
restraint upon their imagination, and reflect that by 
echoing the songs of the ancient bachanals, and 
transmitting the maxims of past debauchery, they 
not only prove that they want invention, but virtue, 
and submit to the servility of imitation only to copy 
that of which the writer, if he was to live now, 
would often be ashamed. 

Yet as the errors and follies of a c^reat o^enius 
are seldom without some radiations of understand- 
ing, by which meaner minds may be enlightened, 
the incitements to pleasure are, in those authors, 
generally mingled with such reflections upon life, 
as well deserve to be considered distinctly from the 
purposes for which they are produced, and to be 
treasured up as the settled conclusions of extensive 
observation, acute sagacity, and mature experience. 

It is not without true judgment, that on these oc- 
casions, they often warn their readers against in- 
quiries into futurity, and solicitude about events 
which lie hid in causes yet unactive, and which time 
has not brought forward into the view of reason. 
An idle and thoughtless resignation to chance, with- 
out any struggle against calamity, or endeavour 
after advantage, is, indeed, below the dignity of a 
reasonable being, in whose power Providence has 
put a great part even of his present happiness ; but 
it shows an equal ignorance of our proper sphere, 
to harass our thoughts with conjectures about things 
not yet in being. How can we regulate events, of 
which we yet know not whether they will ever 
happen ? And why should we think, with painful 

234 RAMBLER. NO. 29. 

anxiety, about that on which our thoughts can have 
no influence ? 

It is a maxim commonly received, that a wise 
man is never surprised ; and, perhaps, this exemption 
from astonishment may be imagined to proceed from 
such a prospect into futurity, as gave previous inti- 
mation of those evils which often fall unexpected 
upon others that have less foresight. But the truth 
is, that things to come, except when they approach 
very nearly, are equally hidden from men of all de- 
grees of understanding ; and if a wise man is not 
amazed at sudden occurrences, it is not that he has 
thought more, but less upon futurity. He never 
considered things not yet existing as the proper ob- 
jects of his attention ; he never indulged dreams till 
he was deceived by their phantoms, nor ever real- 
ized nonentities to his mind. He is not surprised 
because he is not disappointed, and he escapes 
disappointment because he never forms any ex- 

The concerns about things to come, that is so 
justly censured, is not the result of those general 
reflections on the variableness of fortune, the uncer- 
tainty of life, and the universal insecurity of all 
human acquisitions, which must always be suggested 
by the view of the world ; but such a desponding 
anticipation of misfortune, as fixes the mind upon 
scenes of gloom and melancholy, and makes fear 
predominate in every imagination. 

Anxiety of this kind is nearly of the same nature 
wath jealousy in love, and suspicion in the general 
commerce of life ; a temper which keeps the man 
always in alarms, disposes him to judge of every 
thing in a manner that least favours his own quiet, 
fills him with perpetual stratagems of counteraction, 
wears him out in schemes to obviate evils which 

NO. 29. RAMBLER. 235 

never threatened him, and at length, perhaps, con- 
tributes to the production of those mischiefs of which 
it had raised such dreadful apprehensions. 

It has been usual in all ages for moralists to re- 
press the swellings of vaiu hope, by representations 
of the innumerable casualties to which life is subject, 
and by instances of the unexpected defeat of the 
wisest schemes of policy, and sudden subversions of 
the highest eminences of greatness. It has, per- 
haps, not been equally observed, that all these 
examples afford the proper antidote to fear as well 
as to hope, and may be applied with no less efficacy 
as consolations to the timorous, than as restraints to 
the proud. 

Evil is uncertain in the same degree as good, and 
for the reason that we ought not to hope too se- 
curely, we ought not to fear with too much dejection. 
The state of the world is continually changing, and 
none can tell the result of the next vicissitude. 
Whatever is afloat in the stream of time, may, when 
it is very near us, be driven away by an accidental 
blast, which shall happen to cross the general course 
of the current. The sudden accidents by which the 
powerful are depressed, may fall upon those whose 
malice w^e fear; and the greatness by which we ex- 
pect to be overborne, may become another proof of 
the false flatteries of fortune. Our enemies may 
become weak, or we grow strong, before our en- 
counter, or we may advance against each other 
without ever meeting. There are, indeed, natural 
evils which we can flatter ourselves with no hopes 
of escaping, and with little of delaying; but of the 
ills which are apprehended from human malignity, 
or tlie opposition of rival interests, we may always 
alleviate the terror by considering that our perse- 
cutors are weak and i<jnorant, and mortal like 

236 RAMBLER. NO. 29. 

The misfortunes which arise from the concurrence 
of unhappy incidents should never be suffered to 
disturb us before they happen; because, if the breast 
be once laid open to the dread of mere possibilities 
of misery, life must be given a prey to dismal solici- 
tude, and quiet must be lost forever. 

It is remarked by old Cornaro, that it is absurd 
to be afraid of the natural dissolution of the body, 
because it must certainly happen, and can, by no 
caution or artifice, be avoided. Whether this senti- 
ment be entirely just, I shall not examine; but cer- 
tainly if it be improper to fear events which must 
happen, it is yet more evidently contrary to right 
reason to fear those which may never happen, 
and which, if they should come upon us, we cannot 

As we ought not to give way to fear any more 
than indulgence to hope, because the objects both 
of fear and hope are yet uncertain, so we ought not 
to trust the representations of one more than of the 
other, because they are both equally fallacious ; as 
hope enlarges happiness, fear aggravates calamity. 
It is generally allowed, that no man ever found the 
happiness of possession proportionate to that expec- 
tation which incited his desire, and invigorated his 
pursuit ; nor has any man found the evils of life so 
formidable in reality as they were described to him 
by his own imagination ; every species of distress 
brings with it some peculiar supports, some unfore- 
seen means of resisting, or power of enduring. 
Taylor justly blames some pious persons, who in- 
dulge their fancies too much, set themselves, by the 
force of imagination, in the place of the ancient 
martyrs and confessors, and question the validity of 
their own faith because they shrink at the thoughts 
of flames and tortures. " It is," says he, " sufficient 

NO. 30. RAMBLER. 237 

that you are able to encounter the temptations which 
now assault you ; when God sends trials, he may 
send strength." 

All fear is in itself painful ; and when it conduces 
not to safety is painful without use. Every con- 
sideration, therefore, by which groundless terrors 
may be removed, adds something to human happi- 
ness. It is likewise not unworthy of remark, that, 
in proportion as our cares are employed upon the 
future, they are abstracted from the present, from 
the only time which we can call our own, and of 
which, if w^e neglect the apparent duties, to make 
provision against visionary attacks, we shall cer- 
tainly counteract our own purpose ; for he, doubtless, 
mistakes his true interest, who thinks that he can 
increase his safety when he impairs his virtue. 

No. 30. SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 1750. 

— Vultus itbl tuus 
Affuhit pojmlo, gratior it dies, 
Et soles melius nitent. HOR. CAK. v. 5. 6. 

Whene'er thy countenance divine 

Th' attendant people cheers, 
The genial suns more radiant shine, 

The day more glad appears. elphinstox. 

" Mil. RAMBLER, 

" Thkre are few tasks more ungrateful, than for 
persons of modesty to speak their own praises. In 

238 RAMBLER. NO. 30. 

some cases, however, this must be done for the gen- 
eral good, and a generous spirit will on such occa- 
sions assert its merit, and vindicate itself with 
becomino; warmth. 

" My circumstances, Sir, are very hard and pe- 
culiar. Could the world be brought to treat me as 
I deserve, it would be a iDublic benefit. This makes 
me apply to you, that my case being fairly stated in 
a paper so generally esteemed. I may suffer no 
longer from ignorant and childish prejudices. 

" My elder brother was a Jew. A very respect- 
able person, but somewhat austere in his manner ; 
highly and deservedly valued by his near relations 
and intimates, but utterly unfit for mixing in a larger 
society, or gaining a general acquaintance among 
mankind. In a venerable old age he retired from 
the world, and I, in the bloom of youth, came into 
it, succeeding him in all his dignities, and formed, 
as I might reasonably flatter myself, to be the ob- 
ject of universal love and esteem. Joy and gladness 
were born with me ; cheerfulness, good-humour, and 
benevolence, always attended and endeared my in- 
fancy. That time is long past. So long, that idle 
imaginations are apt to fancy me wrinkled, old, and 
disagreeable ; but, unless my looking-glass deceives 
me, I have not yet lost one charm, one beauty of 
my earliest years. However, thus far is too certain, 
I am to everybody just what they choose to think 
me, so that to very few I appear in my right shape ; 
and though naturally I am the friend of human kind, 
to few, very few, comparatively, am I useful or 

" This is the more grievous, as it is utterly im- 
possible for me to avoid being in all sorts of places 
and companies ; and I am, therefore, liable to meet 
with perpetual affronts and injuries. Though I 

NO. 30. RAMBLER. 239 

have as natural an antipathy to cards and dice, as 
some people have to a cat, many and many an as- 
sembly am I forced to endure ; and though rest and 
composure are my peculiar joy, am worn out and 
harassed to death with journeys by men and women 
of quality, who never take one but when I can be 
of the party. Some, on a contrary extreme, will 
never receive me but in bed, where they spend at 
least half of the time I have to stay with them ; and 
others are so monstrously ill-bred as to take physic 
on purpose when they have reason to expect me. 
Those who keep upon terms of more politeness with 
me, are generally so cold and constrained in their 
behaviour, that I cannot but perceive myself an un- 
welcome guest ; and even among persons deserving 
of my esteem, and who certainly have a value for 
me, it is too evident that generally, whenever I come, 
I throw a dulness over the whole company, that I 
am entertained with a formal stiff civility, and that 
they are glad when I am fairly gone. 

" How bitter must this kind of reception be to 
one formed to inspire delight, admiration, and love ! 
To one capable of answering and rewarding the 
greatest warmth and delicacy of sentiments ! 

" I was bred up among a set of excellent people, 
who affectionately loved me, and treated me with 
the utmost honour and respect. It would be tedious 
to relate the variety of my adventures, and strange 
vicissitudes of my fortune, in many different coun- 
tries. Here in England there was a time when I 
lived according to my heart's desire. Whenever I 
appeared, public assemblies appointed for my recep- 
tion were crowded with persons of quality and fash- 
ion, early dressed as for a court, to pay me their 
devoirs. Cheerful hospitality everywhere crowned 
my board, and I was looked upon in every country 

240 RAMBLER. NO. 30. 

parish as a kind of social bond between the squire, 
the parson, and the tenants. The laborious poor 
everywhere blest my appearance : they do so still, 
and keep their best clothes to do me honour ; though 
as much as I delight in the honest country folks, 
they do now and then throw a pot of ale at my head, 
and sometimes an unlucky boy will drive his cricket- 
ball fiill in my face. 

" Even in these my best days there were persons 
who thought me too demure and grave. I must, 
forsooth, by all means be instructed by foreign 
masters, and taught to dance and play. This 
method of education was so contrary to my genius, 
formed for much nobler entertainments, that it did 
not succeed at all. 

" I fell next into the hands of a very different set. 
They were so excessively scandalized at the gayety 
of ray appearance, as not only to despoil me of the 
foreign fopperies, the paint and the patches that I 
had been tricked out with by my last misjudging 
tutors, but they robbed me of every innocent orna- 
ment I had from my infancy been used to gather in 
the fields and gardens ; nay, they blacked my face, 
and covered me all over with a habit of mourning, 
and that too very coarse and awkward. I was now 
obliged to spend my whole life in hearing sermons, 
nor permitted so much as to smile upon any occa- 

" In this melancholy disguise I became a perfect 
bugbear to all children and young folks. Wherever 
I came there was a general hush, an immediate stop 
to all pleasantries of look or discourse ; and not being 
permitted to talk with them in my own language at 
that time, they took such a disgust to me in those 
tedious hours of yawning, that having transmitted it 
to their children, I cannot now be heard, though it 

NO. 30. RAMBLER. 241 

is long; since I have recovered my natural form, and 
pleasing tone of voice. "Would they but receive my 
visits kindly, and listen to what I could tell them — 
let me say it without vanity — how charming a com- 
panion should I be ! to every one could I talk on the 
subjects most interesting and most pleasing. With, 
the great and ambitious, I would discourse of hon- 
ours and advancements, of distinctions to which the 
whole world should be witness, of unenvied dignities 
and durable preferments. To the rich, I would tell 
of inexhaustible treasures, and the sure method to 
attain them. I would teach them to put out their 
money on the best interest, and instruct the lovers 
of pleasure how to secure and improve it to the 
highest deg^ree. The beautv should learn of me how 
to preserve an everlasting bloom. To the afflicted 
I would administer comfort, and relaxation to the 

" As I dare promise myself you will attest the 
truth of all I have advanced, there is no doubt but 
many will be desirous of improving their acquaint- 
ance with me ; and that I may not be thought too 
difficult, I wdll tell you, in short, how I wish to be 

" You must know I equally hate lazy idleness and 
hurry. I would everywhere be welcomed at a toler- 
ably early hour with decent good-humour and grat- 
itude. I must be attended in the great halls 
peculiarly appropriated to me with respect ; but I 
do not insist upon finery: propriety of appearance 
and perfect neatness is all I require. I must at 
dinner be treated with a temperate, but cheerful 
social meal ; both the neighbours and the poor should 
be the better for me. Sometime I must have tete- 
a-tete with my kind entertainers, and the rest of my 
visit should be spent in pleasant walks and airings 

VOL. XVL 16 

242 RAMBLER. NO. 31. 

among sets of agreeable people, in such discourse 
as I shall naturally dictate, or in reading some few- 
selected out of those numberless books that are 
dedicated to me, and go by my name. A name that, 
alas ! as the world stands at present, makes them 
oftener thrown aside than taken. As those con- 
versations and books should be both well chosen, to 
give some advice on that head may possibly furnish 
you with a future paper, and any thing you shall 
offer on my behalf will be of great service to, 
" Good Mr. Rambler, 
" Your faithful Friend and Servant, 

" Sunday." 

No. 31. TUESDAY, JULY 3, 1750. 

Non ego mendosos ausim defendere mores, 
Falsaque pro vitiis arma tenere meis. 

Corrupted manners I shall ne'er defend, 
Nor, falsely witty, for my faults contend. 



Though the fallibility of man's reason, and the 
narrowness of his knowledge, are very liberally 
confessed, yet the conduct of those who so willingly 
admit the weakness of human nature, seems to dis- 
cover that this acknowledgment is not altogether 
sincere ; at least, that most make it with a tacit 
reserve in favour of themselves, and that, with 
whatever ease they give up the claim of their 
neighbours, they are desirous of being thought ex- 

NO. 31. RAMBLER. 243 

empt from faults in their own conduct, and from 
error in their opinions. 

The certain and obstinate opposition, which we 
may observe made to confutation however clear, 
and to reproof however tender, is an undoubted 
argument, that some dormant privilege is thought to 
be attacked ; for as no man can lose what he neither 
possesses, nor imagines himself to possess, or be de- 
frauded of that to which he has no right, it is rea- 
sonable to suppose that those who break out into 
fury at the softest contradiction, or the slightest 
censure, since they apparently conclude themselves 
injured, must fancy some ancient immunity violated, 
or some natural prerogative invaded. To be mis- 
taken, if they thought themselves liable to mistake, 
could not be considered as either shameful or won- 
derful, and they would not receive with so much 
emotion intelligence which only informed them of 
what they knew before, nor struggle with such earn- 
estness against an attack that deprived them of 
nothing to which they held themselves entitled. 

It is related of one of the philosophers, that when 
an account was brought him of his son's death, he 
received it only with this reflection, ' I knew that 
my son was mortal.' He that is convinced of an 
error, if he had the same knowledge of his own 
weakness, would, instead of straining for artifices, 
and brooding malignity, only regard such oversights 
as the appendages of humanity, and pacify himself 
with considering that he had always known man to 
be a fallible being. 

If it be true that most of our passions are excited 
by the novelty of objects, there is little reason for 
doubting that to be considered as subject to faUacies 
of ratiocination, or imperfection of knowledge, is, to 
a great part of mankind, entirely new ; for it is 

244 RAMBLER. NO. 31. 

impossible to fall into any company where there is 
not some regular and established subordination, 
without finding rage and vehemence produced only 
by difference of sentiments about things in which 
neither of the disputants have any other interest, 
than what proceeds from their mutual unwillingness 
to give way to any opinion that may bring upon 
them the disgrace of being wrong. 

I have heard of one that, having advanced some 
erroneous doctrines of philosophy, refused to see 
the experiments by which they were confuted : and 
the observation of every day will give new proofs 
with how much industry subterfuges and evasions 
are sought to decline the pressure of resistless argu- 
ments, how often the state of the question is altered, 
how often the antagonist is wilfully misrepresented, 
and in how much perplexity the clearest positions 
are involved by those whom they happen to oppose. 

Of all mortals none seem to have been more in- 
fected with this species of vanity, than the race of 
writers, whose reputation arising solely from their 
understanding, gives them a very delicate sensibility 
of any violence attempted on their literary honour. 
It is not unpleasing to remark with what solicitude 
men of acknowledged abilities will endeavour to 
palliate absurdities and reconcile contradictions, only 
to obviate criticisms to which all human perform- 
ances must ever be exposed, and from which they 
can never suffer, but when they teach the world by 
a vain and ridiculous impatience to think them of 

Dryden, whose warmth of fancy, and haste of 
composition, very frequently hurried him into inac- 
curacies, heard himself sometimes exposed to ridi- 
cule for having said in one of his tragedies, 
I follow Me, which does too fast pursue. 



That no man could at once follow and be followed, 
was, it may be thought, too plain to be long dis- 
puted ; and the truth is, that Dryden was apparently 
betrayed into the blunder by the double meaning of 
the word Fate, to which in the former part of the 
verse he had annexed the idea of Fortune, and in 
the latter that of Death ; so that the sense only was, 
'- though pursued by Death, I will not resign my- 
self to despair, but will follow Fortune, and do and 
suffer what is appointed." This, however, was^ not 
completely expressed, and Dryden, being determined 
not to give way to his critics, never confessed that 
he had been surprised by an ambiguity ; but finding 
luckily in Virgil an account of a man moving in a 
circle, with this expression, Et se sequiturqiie fugit- 
que, " Here," says he, " is the passage in imitation 
of which I wrote the line that my critics were pleased 
to condemn as nonsense ; not but I may sometimes 
write nonsense, though they have not the fortune to 
find it." 

Every one sees the folly of such mean doublings 
to escape the pursuit of criticism; nor is there a 
single reader of this poet who would not have paid 
him greater veneration, had he shown consciousness 
enough of his own superiority to set such cavils at 
defiance, and owned that he sometimes slipped into 
errors by the tumult of his imagination, and the 
multitude of his ideas. 

It is happy when this temper discovers itself only 
in little things, which may be right or wrong with- 
out any influence on the virtue or happiness of man- 
kind. We may, with very little inquietude, see a 
man persist in a project, which he has found to be 
impracticable, live in an inconvenient house because 
it was contrived by himself, or wear a coat of a 
particular cut, in hopes by perseverance to bring it 


NO. 31. 

into fashion. These are, indeed, follies, but they are 
only follies, and, however wild or ridiculous, can 
very little affect others. 

But such pride, once indulged, too frequently 
operates upon more important objects, and inclines 
men not only to vindicate their errors, but their 
vices ; to persist in practices which their own hearts 
condemn, only lest they should seem to feel re- 
proaches, or be made wiser by the advice of others ; 
or to search for sophisms tending to the confusion 
of all principles, and the evacuation of all duties, 
that they may not appear to act what they are not 
able to defend. 

Let every man, who finds vanity so far predomi- 
nant as to betray him to the danger of this last 
degree of corruption, pause a moment to consider 
what will be the consequences of the plea which he 
is about to offer for a practice to which he knows 
himself not led at first by reason, but impelled by 
the violence of desire, surprised by the suddenness 
of passion, or seduced by the soft approaches of 
temptation, and by imperceptible gradations of guilt. 
Let^ him consider what he is going to commit by 
forcing his understanding to patronize those appetites 
which it is its chief business to hinder and reform.. 

The cause of virtue requires so little art to defend 
it, and good and evil, when they have been once 
shown, are so easily distinguished, that such apolo- 
gists seldom gain proselytes to their party, nor have 
their fallacies power to deceive any but those whose 
desires have clouded their discernment. All that 
the best faculties thus employed can perform, is, to 
persuade the hearers that the man is hopeless whom 
they only thought vicious, that corruption has passed 
from his manners to his principles, that all endeav- 
ours for his recovery are without prospect of sue- 

NO. 31. RAMBLER. 247 

cess, and that nothing remains but to avoid him as 
infectious, or hunt liim down as destructive. 

But if it be supposed that he may impose on his 
audience by partial representations of consequences, 
intricate deductions of remote causes, or perplexed 
combinations of ideas, which having various relations 
appear diflferent as viewed on diflf'erent sides ; that 
he may sometimes puzzle the weak and well-mean- 
ing, and now and then seduce, by the admiration of 
his abilities, a young mind still fluctuating in un- 
settled notions, and neither fortified by instruction 
nor enlightened by experience ; yet what must be 
the event of such a triumph ? A man cannot spend 
all this life in frolic: age, or disease, or solitude, will 
brino; some hours of serious consideration, and it will 
then afibrd no comfort to think, that he has extended 
the dominion of vice, that he has loaded himself with 
the crime of others, and can never know the extent 
of his own wickedness, or make reparation for the 
mischief that he has caused. There is not, perhaps, 
in all the stores of ideal anguish, a thought more 
painful than the consciousness of having propagated 
corruption by vitiating principles, of having not only 
drawn others from the paths of virtue, but blocked 
up the way by which they should return, of having 
blinded them to every beauty but the paint of pleas- 
ure, and deafened them to every call but the allur- 
ing voice of the syrens of destruction. 

There is yet anotlier danger in this practice ; men 
who cannot deceive others are very often successful 
in deceiving themselves ; they weave their sophistry 
till their own reason is entangled, and repeat their 
positions till they are credited by themselves ; by 
often contending they grow sincere in the cause, and 
by long wishing for demonstrative arguments, tiiey 
at last bring themselves to fancy tluit they have 


NO. 31. 

found them. Thej are then at the uttermost verge 
of wickedness, and may die without having that 
light rekindled in their minds, which their own pride 
and contumacy have extinguished. 

^ The men who can be charged with fewest failings, 
either with respect to abilities or virtue, are generally 
most ready to allow them ; for not to dwell on things 
of solemn and awful consideration, the humihty of 
confessors, the tears of saints, and the dying terrors 
of persons eminent for piety and innocence, it is well 
known that Cc^sar wrote an account of the errors 
committed by him in his Wars of Gaul, and that 
Hippocrates, whose name is, perhaps, in rational 
estimation greater than Caesar's, warned posterity 
against a mistake into which he had fallen. ' So 
much,' says Celsus, ' does the open and artless con- 
fession of an error become a man, conscious that he 
has enough remaining to support his character.' 

As all error is meanness, it is incumbent on every 
man who consults his own dignity, to retract it as 
soon as he discovers it, without fearing any censure 
so much as that of his own mind. As justice re- 
quires that all injuries should be repaired, it is the 
duty of him who has seduced others by bad practices, 
or false notions, to endeavour that such as have 
adopted his errors should know his retraction, and 
that those who have learned vice by his example, 
should, by his example, be taught amendment. 

NO. 32. 


No. 32. SATURDAY, JULY 7, 1750. 

"Oacra re daifiovi^ac Tvxatg jSpoTol akye' exovcflv, 
'i2v uv fioipav exv^, Trpdug (^ept, ^rid' ayavaKTEL • 
'lua&at. dh npiiza aa^oaov dvvt). — ptthag. 

Of all the woes that load the mortal state, 
Whate'er thy portion, mildly meet thy fate; 
' But ease it as thou canst.— elphinston. 

So large a part of human life passes in a state 
contrary to our natural desires, that one of the prin- 
cipal topics of moral instruction is the art of bearing 
calamities ; and such is the certainty of evil, that it 
is the duty of every man to furnish his mind with 
those principles that may enable him to act under it 
with decency and propriety. 

The sect of ancient philosophers, that boasted to 
have carried this necessary science to the highest 
perfection, were the Stoics, or scholars of Zeno, 
whose wild enthusiastic virtue pretended to an ex- 
emption from the sensibilities of unenlightened mor- 
tals, and who proclaimed themselves exalted, by the 
doctrines of their sect ; above the reach of those 
miseries which imbitter life to the rest of the world. 
They, therefore, removed pain, poverty, loss of 
friends, exile, and violent death, from the catalogue 
of evils ; and passed, in their haughty style, a kind 
of irreversible decree, by which they forbad them 
to be counted any longer among the objects of terror 
or anxiety, or to give any disturbance to the tran- 
quillity of a wise man 


NO. 32. 

This edict was, I think, not universally observed ; 
for though one of the more resolute, when he was 
tortured by a violent disease, cried out, that let pain 
harass him to its utmost power, it should never force 
him to consider it as other than indifferent and neu- 
tral ; yet all had not stubbornness to hold out against 
their senses ; for a weaker pupil of Zeno is recorded 
to have confessed In the anguish of the gout, that 
' he now found pain to be an evil.' 

It may, however, be questioned, whether these 
philosophers can be very properly numbered among 
the teachers of patience ; for if pain be not an evil, 
there seems no instruction requisite how it may be 
borne ; and, therefore, when they endeavour to arm 
their followers with arguments against it, they may 
be thought to have given up their first position. But 
such inconsistencies are to be expected from the 
greatest understandings, when they endeavour to 
grow eminent by singularity, and employ their 
strength in establishing opinions opposite to nature. 

The controversy about the reality of external 
evils is now at an end. That life has many miseries, 
and that those miseries are sometimes, at least, equal 
to all the powers of fortitude, is now universally 
confessed ; and, therefore, it is useful to consider not 
only how we may escape them, but by what means 
those, which either the accidents of affairs, or the 
infirmities of nature, must bring upon us, may be 
mitigated and lightened, and how we may make 
those hours less wretched, which the condition of 
our present existence will not allow to be very 

The cure for the greatest part of human miseries 
is not radical, but palliative. Infelicity is involved 
in corporal nature, and interwoven with our being ; 
all attempts, therefore, to decline it wholly are use- 

NO. 32. RAMBLER. 251 

less and vain ; the armies of pain send their arrows 
against us on every side, the choice is only between 
those which are more or less sharp, or tinged with 
poison of greater or less malignity ; and the strongest 
armour which reason can supply, will only blunt 
their points, but cannot repel them. 

The great remedy which Heaven has put in our 
hands is patience, by which, though we cannot lessen 
the torments of the body, we can in a great measure 
preserve the peace of the mind, and shall suffer only 
the natural and genuine force of an evil, without 
heightening its acrimony, or prolonging its effects. 

There is, indeed, nothing more unsuitable to the 
nature of man in any calamity than rage and turbu- 
lence, which, without examining whether they are 
not sometimes impious, are at least always offensive, 
and incline others rather to hate and despise than 
to pity and assist us. If what we suffer has been 
brought upon us by ourselves, it is observed by an 
ancient poet, that patience is eminently our duty, 
since no one should be angry at feeling that which 
he has deserved. 

Leniter ex merito quicquid patiare ferendum est. 

Let pain deserved without complaint be borne. 

And surely, if we are conscious that we have not 
contributed to our own sufferings, if punishment falls 
upon innocence, or disappointment happens to in- 
dustry and ])rudence, patience, whether more neces- 
sary or not, is much easier, since our pain is then 
without aggravation, and we have not the bitterness 
of remorse to add to the asperity of misfortune. 

In those evils which are allotted to us by Provi- 
dence, such as deformity, privation of any of the 
senses, or old age, it is always to be remembered, 

252 RAMBLER. NO. 32. 

that impatience can have no present effect, but to 
deprive us of the consolations which our condition 
admits, by driving away from us those by whose 
conversation or advice we might be amused or 
helped ; and that, with regard to futurity, it is yet 
less to be justified, since, without lessening the 
pain, it cuts of the hope of that reward which He, 
by whom it is inflicted, will, confer upon them that 
bear it well. 

In all evils which admit a remedy, impatience is 
to be avoided, because it wastes that time and atten- 
tion in complaints, that, if properly applied, might 
remove the cause. Turenne, among the acknow- 
ledgments which he used to pay in conversation to 
the memory of those by whom he had been in- 
structed in the art of war, mentioned one with hon- 
our, who taught him not to spend his time in 
regretting any mistake which he had made, but 
to set himself immediately and vigorously to re- 
pair it. 

Patience and submission are very carefully to be 
distinguished from cowardice and indolence. We 
are not to repine, but we may lawfully struggle ; for 
the calamities of life, like the necessities of nature, 
are calls to labour and exercises of diligence. When 
we feel any pressure of distress, we are not to con- 
clude that we can only obey the will of Heaven by 
languishing under it, any more than when we per- 
ceive the pain of thirst, we are to imagine that water 
is prohibited. Of misfortune, it never can be cer- 
tainly known whether, as proceeding from the hand 
of God, it is an act of favour, or of punishment : but 
since all the ordinary dispensations of Providence 
are to be interpreted according to the general anal- 
ogy of things, we may conclude that we have a right 
to remove one inconvenience as well as another; 

NO. 32. KAMBLER. 253 

that we are only to take care lest we purchase ease 
with guilt ; and that our Maker's purpose, whether of 
reward or severity, will be answered by the labours 
which he lays us under the necessity of performing. 

This duty is not more difficult in any state thaa 
in diseases intensely painful, which may indeed 
suffer such exacerbations as seem to strain the 
powers of life to their utmost stretch, and leave very 
little of the attention vacant to precept or reproof. 
In this state the nature of man requires some indul- 
gence, and every extravagance but impiety may be 
easily forgiven him. Yet, lest we should think our- 
selves too soon entitled to the mournful privileges 
of irresistible misery, it is proper to reflect that the 
utmost anguish which human wit can contrive, or 
human malice can inflict, has been borne with con- 
stancy ; and that if the pains of disease be, as I 
believe they are, sometimes greater than those of 
artificial torture, they are therefore in their own 
nature shorter ; the vital frame is quickly broken, 
or the union between soul and body is for a time 
suspended by insensibility, and we soon cease to 
feel our maladies when they once become too vio- 
lent to be borne. I think there is some reason for 
questioning whether the body and mind are not so 
proportioned, that the one can bear all that can be 
inflicted on the other, whether virtue cannot stand 
its ground as long as life, and whether a soul well 
principled will not be separated sooner than sub- 

In calamities which operate chiefly on our pas- 
sions, such as diminution of fortune, loss of friends, 
or declension of character, the chief danger of impa- 
tience is upon the first attack, and many expedients 
have been contrived, by wliich the blow may be 
broken. Of these, the most general precept is, not 



to take pleasure in any thing, of which it is not in 
our power to secure the possession to ourselves. 
This counsel, when we consider the enjoyment of 
any terrestrial advantage as opposite to a constant 
and habitual solicitude for future felicity, is undoubt- 
edly just, and delivered by that authority which 
cannot be disputed ; but in any other sense, is it not 
like advice, not to walk lest we should stumble, or not 
to see lest our eyes should light upon deformity? It 
seems to me reasonable to enjoy blessings with con- 
fidence as well as to resign them with submission, 
and to hope for the continuance of good which we 
possess without insolence or voluptuousness, as for 
the restitution of that which we lose without de-, 
spondency or murmurs. 

The chief security against the fruitless anguish of 
impatience, must arise from frequent reflection on 
the wisdom and goodness of the God of nature, in 
whose hands are riches and poverty, honour and dis- 
grace, pleasure and pain, and life and death. A 
settled conviction of the tendency of every thino- to 
our good, and of the possibility of turning miseines 
into happiness, by receiving them rightly, will 
incHne us to bless the name of the Lord whether h« 
gives or takes away. 

NO. 33. RAMBLER.' 255 

No. 33. TUESDAY, JULY 10, 1750 

Quod caret altemd requie durabile non est. oviD. 

Alternate rest and labour long endure. 


In the early ages of the world, as is well known to 
those who are versed m ancient traditions, when 
innocence was yet untainted, and simplicity unadul- 
terated, mankind was happy in the enjoyment of 
continual pleasure, and constant plenty, under the 
protection of Rest ; a gentle divinity, who required 
of her worshippers neither altars nor sacrifices, and 
whose rites were only performed by prostrations 
upon turfs of flowers in shades of jasmine and myrtle, 
or by dances on the banks of rivers flowing with milk 
and nectar. 

Under this easy government the first generations 
breathed the fragrance of perpetual spring, ate the 
fruits, which, without culture, fell ripe into their 
hands, and slept under bovvers arched by nature, 
with the birds singing over their heads, and the 
beasts sporting about them. But by degrees they 
began to lose their original integrity ; each, though 
there was more than enough for all, was desirous 
of appropriating part to himself. Then entered 
Violence and Fraud, and Theft and Rapine. Soon 
after Pride and Envy broke into the world, and 
brought with them a new standard of wealth ; for 
men, who till then thought themselves rich when 
they wanted nothing, now rated their demands, not 

256 RAMBLER. NO. S3. 

bj the calls of nature, but by the plenty of others ; 
and began to consider themselves as poor, when 
they beheld their own possessions exceeded by those 
of their neighbours. Now only one could be happy, 
because only one could have most, and that one was 
always in danger, lest the same arts, by which he 
had supplanted others, should be practised upon 

Amidst the prevalence of this corruption, the state 
of the earth was changed ; the year was divided into 
seasons ; part of the ground became barren, and the 
rest yielded only berries, acorns, and herbs. The 
summer and autumn indeed furnished a coarse and 
inelegant sufficiency, but winter was without any 
relief; Famine, with a thousand diseases, which the 
inclemency of the air invited into the upper regions, 
made havoc, among men, and there appeared to be 
danger lest they should be destroyed before they 
were reformed. 

To oppose the devastations of Famine, who scat- 
tered the ground everywhere with carcases, Labour 
came down upon earth. Labour was the son of 
Necessity, the nurseling of Hope, and the pupil of 
Art ; he had the strength of his mother, the spirit 
of his nurse, and the dexterity of his governess. His 
face was wrinkled with the wind, and swarthy with 
the sun ; he had the implements of husbandry in one 
hand, with which he turned up the earth ; in the 
other he had the tools of architecture, and raised 
walls and towers at his pleasure. He called out 
with a rough voice, " Mortals ! see here the power 
to whom you are consigned, and from whom you are 
to hope for all your pleasures, and all your safety. 
You have long languished under the dominion of 
Rest, an impotent and deceitful goddess, who can 
neither protect nor relieve you, but resigns you to 

NO. 33. RAMBLER. 257 

the first attacks of either Famine or Disease, and 
suffers her shades to be invaded by every enemy, 
and destroyed by every accident. 

" Awake, therefore, to the call of Labour. I will 
teach you to remedy the sterility of the earth, and 
the severity of the sky ; I will compel summer to 
find provisions for the winter ; I will force the wa- 
ters to give you their fish, the air its fowls, and the 
forest its beasts ; I will teach you to pierce the 
bowels of the earth, and bring out from the caverns 
of the mountains metals which shall give strength 
to your hands, and security to your bodies, by which 
you may be covered from the assaults of the fiercest 
beasts, and with which you shall fell the oak, and 
divide rocks, and subject all nature to your use and 

Encouraged by this magnificent invitation, the 
inhabitants of the globe considered Labour as their 
only friend, and hasted to his command. He led 
them out to the fields and mountains, and showed 
them how to open mines, to level hills, to drain 
marshes, and change the course of rivers. The face 
of things was immediately transformed ; the land 
w^as covered with towns and villages, encompassed 
with fields of corn, and plantations of fruit-trees ; 
and nothing was seen but heaps of grain, and 
baskets of fruit, full tables, and crowded store- 

Thus Labour and his followers added every hour 
new acquisitions to their conquests, and saw Famine 
gradually dispossessed of his dominions ; till at last, 
amidst their jollity and triumphs, they were de- 
pressed and amazed by the approach of Lassitude, 
who was known by her sunk eyes and dejected 
countenance. She came forward trembling and 
groaning : at every groan the hearts of ail those who 

VOL. XVI. 17 

258 RAMBLER. NO. 33. 

beheld her lost their courage, their nerves slackened, 
their hands shook, and the instruments of labour fell 
from their grasp. 

Shocked with this horrid phantom, they reflected 
with regret on their easy compliance with the solici- 
tations of Labour, and began to wish again for the 
golden hours which they remembered to have passed 
under the reign of Rest, whom they resolved again 
to visit, and to whom they intended to dedicate the 
remaining part of their lives. Rest had not left the 
world ; they quickly found her, and to atone for 
their former desertion, invited her to the enjoyment 
of those acquisitions which Labour had procured 

Rest, therefore, took leave of the groves and val- 
leys which she had hitherto inhabited, and entered 
into palaces, reposed herself in alcoves, and slum- 
bered away the winter upon beds of down, and the 
summer in artificial grottos with cascades playing 
before her. There was, indeed, always something 
wanting to complete her felicity, and she could never 
lull her returning fugitives to that serenity, which 
they knew before their engagements with Labour : 
nor was her dominion entirely without control, for 
she was obliged to share it with Luxury, though she 
always looked upon her as a false friend, by whom 
her influence was in reality destroyed, while it 
seemed to be promoted. 

The two soft associates, however, reigned for 
some time without visible disagreement, till at last 
Luxury betrayed her charge, and let in Disease to 
seize upon her worshippers. Rest then flew away, 
and left the place to the usurpers ; who employed 
all their arts to fortify themselves in their possession, 
and to strengthen the interest of each other. 

Rest had not always the same enemy ; in some 

NO. 33. RAMBLER. 259 

places she escaped the incursions of Disease ; but 
had her residence invaded by a more slow and subtle 
intruder; for very frequently when every thing was 
composed and quiet, when there was neither pain 
within, nor danger without, when every flower was 
in bloom, and every gale freighted with perfumes, 
Satiety would enter with a languishing and repining 
look, and throw herself upon the couch placed and 
adorned for the accommodation of Rest. No sooner 
was she seated than a general gloom spread itself 
on every side, the groves immediately lost their 
verdure, and their inhabitants desisted from their 
melody ; the breeze sunk in sighs, and the flowers 
contracted their leaves and shut up their odours. 
Nothing was seen on every side but multitudes 
wandering about they knew not whither, in quest 
they knew not of what ; no voice was heard but of 
complaints that mentioned no pain, and murmurs 
that could tell of no misfortune. 

Rest had now lost her authority. Her followers 
again began to treat her with contempt ; some of 
them united themselves more closely to Luxury, 
who promised by her arts to drive Satiety away ; 
and others that were more wise, or had more forti- 
tude, went back again to Labour, by whom they 
were, indeed, protected from Satiety, but delivered 
up in time to Lassitude, and forced by her to the 
bowers of Rest. 

Thus Rest and Labour equally perceived their 
reign of short duration and uncertain tenure, and 
their empire liable to inroads from those who were 
alike enemies to both. They each found their sub- 
jects unfaithful, and ready to desert them upon every 
opportunity. Labour saw the riches which he had 
given always carried away as an offering to Rest, 
and Rest found lier votaries in every exigence flying 

260 RAMBLER. NO. 34. 

from her to beg help of Labour. They, therefore, 
at last determined upon an interview, in which thej 
agreed to divide the world between them, and govern 
it alternately, allotting the dominion of the day to 
one, and that of the night to the other, and promised 
to guard the frontiers of each other, so that, when- 
ever hostilities were attempted. Satiety should be 
intercepted by Labour, and Lassitude expelled by 
Rest. Thus the ancient quarrel was appeased, and 
as hatred is often succeeded by its contrary, Rest 
afterwards became pregnant by Labour, and was 
delivered of Health, a benevolent goddess, who con- 
solidated the union of her parents, and contributed 
to the regular vicissitudes of their reign, by dispens- 
ing her gifts to those only who shared their lives in 
just proportions between Rest and Labour. 

No. 34. SATURDAY, JULY 14, 1750. 

— Non sine vano 
Aurarum et siliioe. metu. hor. car. i. 23. 3 

Alarm'd with every rising gale, 

In every wood, in every vale. elpbcinston. 

I HAVE been censured for having hitherto dedi- 
cated so few of my speculations to the ladies ; and, 
indeed, the moralist, whose instructions are accom- 
modated only to one half of the human species, must 
be confessed not sufficiently to have extended his 
views. Yet it is to be considered, that masculine 

NO. 34. RAMBLER. 261 

duties afford more room for counsels and observa- 
tions, as they are less uniform, and connected with 
things more subject to vicissitude and accident ; we, 
therefore, find that in philosophical discourses which 
teach by precept, or historical narratives that instruct 
by example, the peculiar virtues or faults of women 
fill but a small part ; perhaps, generally too small, 
for so much of our domestic happiness is in their 
hands, and their influence is so great upon our 
earliest years, that the universal interest of the world 
requires them to be well instructed in their province ; 
nor can it be thought proper that the qualities by 
which so much pain or pleasure may be given, should 
be left to the direction of chance. 

I have, therefore, willingly given a place in my 
paper to a letter, which, perhaps, may not be wholly 
useless to them whose chief ambition is to please, 
as it shows how certainly the end is missed by ab- 
surd and injudicious endeavours at distinction. 



" SIR, 

"I am a young gentleman at my own disposal 
with a considerable estate ; and having passed 
through the common forms of education, spent some 
time in foreign countries, and made myself distin- 
guished since my return in the politest company; I 
am now arrived at that part of life in which every 
man is expected to settle, and provide for the contin- 
uation of his lineage. I withstood for some time 
the solicitations and remonstrances of my aunts and 
uncles, but at last was persuaded to visit Antiiea, 
an heiress, whose land lies contiguous to mine, and 
whose birth and beauty are without objection. Our 
friends declared that we were born for eacli other ; 

262 RAMBLER. NO. 34. 

all tliose on, both sides who had no interest in hin- 
dering our union, contributed to promote it, and 
were conspiring to hurry us into matrimony before 
we had an opportunity of knowing one another. I 
was, however, too old to be given away without my 
own consent, and having happened to pick up an 
opinion, which to many of my relations seemed ex- 
tremely odd, that a man might be unhappy with a 
large estate, determined to obtain a nearer know- 
ledge of the person with whom I was to pass the 
remainder of my time. To protract the courtship 
was by no means difficult, for Anthea had a wonder- 
ful facility of evading questions which I seldom re- 
peated, and of barring approaches which I had no 
great eagerness to press. 

" Tlius the time passed away in visits and civili- 
ties, without any ardent professions of love, or for- 
mal offers of settlements. I often attended her to 
public places, in which, as is well known, all be- 
haviour is so much regulated by custom, that very 
little insight can be gained into the private character, 
and, therefore, I was not yet able to inform myself 
of her humour and inclinations. 

" At last, I ventured to propose to her to make 
one of a small party, and spend a day in viewing a 
seat and gardens a few miles distant ; and having, 
upon her compliance, collected the rest of the com- 
pany, I brought, at the hour, a coach which 1 had 
borrowed from an acquaintance, having delayed to 
buy one myself, till I should have an opportunity 
of taking the lady's opinion for whose use it was in- 
tended. Anthea came down, but as she was going 
to step into the coach, started back with great ap- 
pearance of terror, and told us that she durst not 
enter, for the shocking colour of the lining had so 
much the air of the mourning-coach in which she 

NO. 34. RAMBLER. 263 

followed her aunt's funeral three years before, that 
she should never have her poor dear aunt out of 
her head. 

" I knew that it was not for lovers to argue with 
their mistresses ; I therefore sent back the coach, 
and got another more gay ; into this we all entered, 
the coachman began to drive, and we were amusing 
ourselves with the expectation of what we should 
see, when, upon a small inclination of the carriage, 
Anthea screamed out that we w^ere overthrown. We 
were obliged to fix all our attention upon her, which 
she took care to keep up by renewing her outcries, 
at every corner where we had occasion to turn ; at 
intervals she entertained us with fretful complaints 
of the uneasiness of the coach, and obliged me to 
call several times on the coachman to take care and 
drive without jolting. The poor fellow endeavoured 
to please us, and, therefore, moved very slowly, till 
Anthea found out that this pace would only keep us 
longer on the stones, and desired that I would order 
him to make more speed. He whipped his horses, 
the coach jolted again, and Anthea, very complais- 
antly, told us how much she repented that she made 
one of our company. 

"At last we got into the smooth road, and began 
to think our difficulties at an end, when, on a sudden, 
Anthea saw a brook before us, which she could not 
venture to pass. "We were, therefore, obliged to 
alight, that we might walk over the bridge ; but when 
we came to it, we found it so narrow, that Anthea 
durst not set her foot upon it, and was content, after 
long consultation, to call the coach back, and with 
innumerable precautions, terrors, and lamentations, 
crossed the brook. 

"It was necessary after this delay to amend our 
pace, and directions were accordingly given to the 

264 RAMBLER. NO. 34. 

coachman, when Anthea informed us, that it was 
common for the axle to catch fire with a quick mo- 
tion, and begged of me to look out every minute, 
lest we should all be consumed. I was forced to 
obey, and gave her from time to time the most solemn 
declarations that all was safe, and that I hoped we 
should reach the place without losing our lives either 
by fire or water. 

" Thus we passed on, over ways soft and hard, 
with more or with less speed, but always with new 
vicissitudes of anxiety. If the ground was hard, we 
were jolted, if soft, we were sinking. If we went 
fast, we should be overturned, if slowly, we should 
never reach the place. At length she saw some- 
thing which she called a cloud, and began to con- 
sider that at that time of the year it frequently 
thundered. This seemed to be the capital terror, 
for after that the coach was suffered to move on ; 
and no dano;er was thouorht too dreadful to be en- 
countered, provided she could get into a house be- 
fore the thunder. 

" Thus our whole conversation passed in dangers, 
and cares, and fears, and consolations, and stories of 
ladies dragged in the mire, forced to spend all the 
night on a heath, drowned in rivers, or burnt with 
lightning ; and no sooner had a hairbreadth escape 
set us free from one calamity, but we were threatened 
with another. 

" At length we reached the house where we 
intended to regale ourselves, and I proposed to 
Anthea the choice of a great number of dishes, 
which the place, being well provided for entertain- 
ment, happened to afford. She made some objec- 
tion to every thing that was offered ; one thing she 
hated at that time of the year, another she could 
not bear since she had seen it spoiled at Lady Feed- 

NO. 34. RAMBLER. 2G5 

welFs table ; another she was sure they could not 
dress at this house, and another she could not touch 
without French sauce. At last she fixed her mind 
upon salmon, but there was no salmon in the house. 
It was, however, procured with great expedition, 
and when it came to the table, she found that her 
fright had taken away her stomach, which indeed 
she thought no great loss, for she could never be- 
lieve that any thing at an inn could be cleanly got. 

" Dinner was now over, and the company pro- 
posed, for I was now past the condition of making 
overtures, that we should pursue our original design 
of visiting the sjardens. Anthea declared that she 
could not imagine what pleasure we expected from 
the sight of a few green trees, and a little gravel, 
and two or three pits of clear water ; that for her 
part she hated walking till the cool of the evening, 
and thought it very likely to rain ; and again wished 
that she had stayed at home. We then reconciled 
ourselves to our disappointment, and began to talk 
on common subjects, when Anthea told us, that 
since we came to see gardens, she would not hinder 
our satisfaction. We all rose, and walked through 
the inclosures for some time, with no other trouble 
than the necessity of watching lest a frog should 
hop across the way, which Anthea told us would 
certainly kill her, if she should happen to see him. 

" Frogs, as it fell out, there were none ; but when 
we were within a furlong of the gardens, Anthea 
saw some sheep, and heard the wether clink his 
bell, which she was certain was not hung upon him 
for nothing, and therefore no assurances nor entrea- 
ties should prevail upon her to go a step further ; 
she was sorry to dIsa[>[)oint the company, but her 
life was dearer to her than ceremony. 

" We came back to the inn, and Anthea now dis- 

266 RAMBLER. NO. 34. 

covered that there was no time to be lost in return- 
ing, for the night would come upon us, and a 
thousand misfortunes might happen in the dark. 
The horses were immediately harnessed, and An- 
thea having wondered what could seduce her to stay 
so long, was eager to set out. But we had now a 
new scene of terror, every man we saw was a rob- 
ber, and we were ordered sometimes to drive hard, 
lest a traveller, whom we saw behind, should over- 
take us ; and sometimes to stop, lest we should come 
up to him who was passing before us. She alarmed 
many an honest man, by begging him to spare her 
life as he passed by the coach, and drew me into 
fifteen quarrels with persons who increased her 
fright, by kindly stopping to inquire whether they 
could assist us. At last we came home, and she 
told her company next day what a pleasant ride she 
had been taking. 

" I suppose. Sir, I need not inquire of you what 
deductions may be made from this narrative, nor 
what happiness can arise from the society of that 
woman who mistakes cowardice for elegance, and 
imagines all delicacy to consist in refusing to be 

" I am," &c. 



No. 35. TUESDAY, JULY 17, 1750. 

— Non pi'onuba Juno, 
Ncm Hymenceus adest, non illi Gratia lecto. 

OVID. MET. vi. 428. 

Without connubial Juno's aid tliey wed; 
Nor Hymen nor the Graces bless the bed. 



" SIR, 

" As you have hitherto delayed the performance 
of the promise, by which you gave us reason to hope 
for another paper upon matrimony, I imagine you 
desirous of collecting more materials than your own 
experience or observation can supply ; and I shall 
therefore lay candidly before you an account of my 
own entrance into the conjugal state. 

" I was about eight-and-twenty years old, when, 
having tried the diversions of the town till I began 
to be weary, and being awakened into attention to 
more serious business, by the failure of an attorney 
to whom I had implicitly trusted the conduct of my 
fortune, I resolved to take my estate into my own 
care, and methodize my whole life according to the 
strictest rules of economical prudence. 

"In pursuance of this scheme, I took leave of my 
acquaintance, who dismissed me with numberless 
jests upon my new system ; having tirst endeavoured 
to divert me from a design so little worthy of a man 
of wit, by ridiculous accounts of the ignorance and 

268 RAMBLER. NO. 35. 

rusticity into which many had sunk in their retire- 
ment, after having distinguished themselves in tav- 
erns and playhouses, and given hopes of rising to 
uncommon eminence among the gay part of man- 

" When I came first into the country, which, by 
a neglect not uncommon among young heirs, I had 
never seen since the death of my father, I found 
every thing in such confusion, that, being utterly 
without practice in business, I had great difficulties 
to encounter in disentangling the perplexities of my 
circumstances; they however gave way to diligent 
application, and I perceived that the advantage of 
keeping my own accounts would very much over- 
balance the time which they could require. 

"I had now visited my tenants, surveyed my 
land, and repaired the old house, which, for some 
years, had been running to decay. These proofs 
of pecuniary wisdom began to recommend me as a 
sober, judicious, thriving gentleman, to all my graver 
neighbours of the country, who never failed to cele- 
brate my management in opposition to Thriftless 
and Latterwit, two smart fellows, who had estates 
in the same part of the kingdom, which they visited 
now and then in a frolic, to take up their rents 
beforehand, debauch a milkmaid, make a feast for 
the village, and tell stories of their own intrigues, 
and then rode post back to town to spend their 

" It was doubtful, however, for some time, whether 
I should be able to hold my resolution ; but a short 
perseverance removed all suspicions. I rose every 
day in reputation, by the decency of my con- 
versation, and the regularity of my conduct, and 
was mentioned with great regard at the assizes, 
as a man very fit to be put in commission for the 

NO. 35. RAMBLER. 269 

" During the confusion of my affairs, and the 
daily necessity of visiting farms, adjusting contracts, 
letting leases, and superintending repairs, I found 
very little vacuity in my life, and therefore had not 
many thoughts of marriage ; but, in a little while, 
the tumult of business subsided, and the exact 
method which I had established enabled me to dis- 
patch my accounts with great facility. I had, there- 
fore, now upon my hands the task of finding means 
to spend my time, without falling back into the 
poor amusements which I had hitherto indulged, or 
changing them for the sports of the field, which I 
saw pursued wdth so much eagerness by the gentle- 
men of the country, that they were indeed the only 
pleasures in which I could promise myself any par- 

" The inconvenience of this situation naturally 
disposed me to wish for a companion, and the 
known value of my estate, with my reputation for 
frugality and prudence, easily gained me admission 
into every family ; for I soon found that no inquiry 
was made after any other virtue, nor any testimonial 
necessary, but of my freedom from incumbrances, 
and my care of what they termed the main chance. 
I saw, not without indignation, the eagerness with 
which the daughters, wdierever I came, were set out 
to show ; nor could I consider them in a state much 
different from prostitution, when I found them 
ordered to play their airs before me, and to exhibit, 
by some seeming chance, specimens of their music, 
their work, or their housewifery. No sooner was 
I placed at table, than the young lady was called 
upon to pay me some civility or other; nor could I 
find means of escaping, from either father or mother, 
some account of their daughter's excellences, with 
a declaration that they were now leaving the world, 

270 RAMBLER. NO. 35. 

and had no business on this side the grave, but to 
see their children happily disposed of; that she 
whom I had been pleased to compliment at table, 
was indeed the chief pleasure of their age, so good, 
so dutiful, so great a relief to her mamma in the 
care of the house, and so much her papa's favourite 
for her cheerfulness and wit, that it would be with 
the last reluctance that they should part ; but to a 
worthy gentleman in the neighbourhood, whom they 
might often visit, they would not so far consult their 
own gratification, as to refuse her ; and their tender- 
ness should be shown in her fortune, whenever a 
suitable settlement was proposed. 

" As I knew these overtures not to proceed from 
any preference of me before another equally rich, I 
could not but look with pity on young persons con- 
demned to be set to auction, and made cheap by 
injudicious commendations; for how could they 
know themselves offered and rejected a hundred 
times, without some loss of that soft elevation, and 
maiden dignity, so necessary to the completion of 
female excellence? 

" I shall not trouble you with a history of the 
stratagems practised upon my judgment, or the 
allurements tried upon my heart, which, if you have, 
in any part of your life, been acquainted with rural 
politics, you will easily conceive. Their arts have 
no great variety, they think nothing worth their care 
but money, and supposing its influence the same 
upon all the world, seldom endeavour to deceive by 
any other means than false computations. 

" I will not deny that, by hearing myself loudly 
commended for any discretion, I began to set some 
value upon my character, and was unwilling to lose 
my credit by marrying for love. I therefore re- 
solved to know the fortune of the lady whom I 

NO. 35. RAMBLER. 271 

should address, before I inquired after her wit, deli- 
cacy, or beauty. 

" This determination led me to Mitissa, the daugh- 
ter of Chrysophilus, whose person was at least with- 
out deformity, and whose manners were free from 
reproach, as she had been bred up at a distance 
from all common temptations. To Mitissa, there- 
fore, I obtained leave from her parents to pay my 
court, and was referred by her again to her father 
whose direction she was resolved to follow. The 
question then was, only, what should be settled. 
The old gentleman made an enormous demand, with 
which I refused to comply. Mitissa was ordered 
to exert her power; she told me, that if I could 
refuse her papa, I had no love for her ; that she 
was an unhappy creature, and that I was a perfidi- 
ous man ; then she burst into tears and fell into fits. 
All this, as I was no passionate lover, had little 
effect. She next refused to see me, and because I 
thought myself obliged to write in terms of distress, 
they had once hopes of starving me into measures ; 
but, finding me inflexible, the father complied with 
my proposal, and told me he liked me the more for 
being so good at a bargain. 

"I was now married to Mitissa, and was to expe- 
rience the happiness of a match made without pas- 
sion. Mitissa soon discovered that she was equally 
prudent with myself, and had taken a husband only 
to be at her own command, and to have a chariot at 
her own call. She brought with her an old maid, 
recommended by her mother, who taught her all 
the arts of domestic management, and was, on every 
occasion, her chief agent and directress. They soon 
invented one reason or other, to quarrel with all my 
servants, and either prevailed on me to turn them 
away, or treated them so ill, that they left me of 

272 RAMBLER. NO. 35. 

themselves, and always supplied tlieir places with 
some brought from my wife's relations. Thus they 
established a family, over which I had no authority, 
and which was in a perpetual conspiracy against 
me ; for Mitissa considered herself as having a sep- 
arate interest, and thought nothing her own but 
what she laid up without my knowledge. For this 
reason she brought me false accounts of the ex- 
penses of the house, joined with my tenants in com- 
plaints of hard times, and by means of a steward of 
her own, took rewards for soliciting abatements of 
the rent. Her great hope is to outlive me, that she 
may enjoy, what she has thus accumulated, and, 
therefore, she is always contriving some improve- 
ments of her jointure land, and once tried to procure 
an injunction to hinder me from felling timber upon 
it for repairs. Her father and mother assist her in 
her projects, and are frequently hinting that she is 
ill used, and reproaching me with the presents that 
other ladies receive from their husbands. 

" Such, Sir, was my situation for seven years, till 
at last my patience was exhausted, and having one 
day invited her father to my house, I laid the state 
of my affairs before him, detected my wife in several 
of her frauds, turned out her steward, charged a 
constable with her maid, took my business in my 
own hands, reduced her to a settled allowance, and 
now write this account to warn others against 
marrying those whom they have no reason to 


NO. 36. RAMBLER. 273 

No. 36. SATURDAY, JULY 21, 1750. 

— "A//' eiTovTO vofj.^eg 
TepTTOfievoc avpty^t i6%ov 6' ovre npovor/oav. 


— Piping on their reeds, the s"hepherds go, 
Nor fear an ambush, nor suspect a foe. pope. 

There is scarcely any species of poetry that has 
allured more readers, or excited more writers, than 
the pastoral. It is generally pleasing, because it 
entertains the mind with representations of scenes 
familiar to almost every imagination, and of which 
all can equally judge whether they are well de- 
scribed, it exhibits a life, to which we have been 
always accustomed to associate peace, and leisure, 
and innocence ; and, therefore, we readily set open 
the heart for the admission of its images, which con- 
tribute to drive away cares and perturbations, and 
suffer ourselves, without resistance, to be transported 
to elysian regions, where we are to meet with noth- 
ing, but joy, and plenty, and contentment ; where 
every gale whispers pleasure, and every shade prom- 
ises repose. 

It has been maintained by some, who love to talk 
of what they do not know, that pastoral is the most 
ancient poetry ; and, indeed, since it is probable that 
poetry is nearly of the same antiquity with rational 
nature, and since the life of the first men was cer- 
tainly rural, we may reasonably conjecture, that, as 
their ideas would necessarily be borrowed from those 

VOL. XVI. 18 

274 RAMBLER. NO. 36. 

objects with which they were acquainted, their com- 
posures, being filled chiefly with such thoughts on 
the visible creation as must occur to the first ob- 
servers, w^ere pastoral hymns, like those which 
Milton introduces the original pair singing, in the 
day of innocence, to the praise of their Maker. 

For the same reason that pastoral poetry was the 
first employment of the human imagination, it is 
generally the first literary amusements of our minds. 
We have seen fields, and meadows, and groves, 
from the time that our eyes opened upon life ; and 
are pleased with birds, and brooks, and breezes, 
much earlier than we engage among the actions and 
passions of mankind. We are, therefore, delighted 
with rural pictures, because we know the original 
at an age when our curiosity can be very little 
awakened, by descriptions of courts which we never 
beheld, or representations of passions which we never 

The satisfaction received from this kind of writing 
not only begins early, but lasts long; we do not, as 
we advance into the intellectual world, throw it away 
among other childish amusements and pastimes, but 
willingly return to it in any hour of indolence and 
relaxation. The images of true pastoral have always 
the power of exciting delight, because the works of 
nature, from which they are drawn, have always the 
same order and beauty, and continue to force them- 
selves upon our thoughts, being at once obvious to 
the most careless regard, and more than adequate to 
the strongest reason and severest contemplation. 
Our inclination to stillness and tranquillity is seldom 
much lessened by long knowledge of the busy and 
tumultuary part of the world. In childhood, we turn 
our thoughts to the country, as to the region of 
pleasure ; we recur to it in old age as a port of rest, 

NO. 36. KAMBLER. 275 

and, perhaps, with tliat secondary and adventitious 
gladness Avhich every man feels on reviewing those 
places, or recollecting those occurrences, that con- 
tributed to his youthful enjoyments, and bring him 
back to the prime of life, when the world was gay 
with the bloom of novelty, when mirth wantoned at 
his side, and hope sparkled before him. 

The sense of this universal pleasure has invited 
' numbers without number/ to try their skill in pas- 
toral performances, in which they have generally 
succeeded after the manner of other imitators, trans- 
mitting the same images in the same combination 
from one to another, till he that reads the title of a 
poem, may guess at the whole series of the composi- 
tion ; nor will a man, after the perusal of thousands 
of these performances, find his knowledge enlarged 
with a single view of nature not produced beforefor 
his imagination amused with any new application 
of those views to moral purposes. 

The range of ])astoral is, indeed, narrow, for 
though njiture itself, philosophically considered, be 
inexhaustible, yet its general effects on the eye and 
on the ear are uniform, and incapable of much variety 
of description. Poetry cannot dwell upon the minu- 
ter distinctions, by which one species differs from 
another, without departing from that simplicity of 
grandeur which fills the imagination ; nor dissect the 
latent qualities of things, without losing its general 
power of gratifying every mind by recalling its con- 
ceptions. However, as each age makes some dis- 
coveries, and those discoveries are by degrees 
generally known ; as new plants or modes of" cul- 
ture are introduced, and by little and little become 
common ; pastoral might receive, from time to time, 
small augmentations, and exhibit once in a century 
a scene somewiiat varied. 

276 KAMBLER. NO. 36. 

But pastoral subjects have been often, like others, 
taken into the hands of those that were not qualified 
to adorn them, men to whom the face of nature was 
so little known, that they have drawn it only after 
their own imagination, and changed or distorted 
her features, that their portraits might appear 
something more than servile copies from their 

Not only the images of rural life, but the occasions 
on which they can be properly produced, are few 
and general. The state of a man confined to the 
employments and pleasures of the country, is so little 
diversified, and exposed to so few of those accidents 
which produce perplexities, terrors, and surprises, 
in more complicated transactions, that he can be 
shown but seldom in such circumstances as attract 
curiosity. His ambition is without policy, and his 
love without intrigue. He has no complaints to 
make of his rival, but that he is richer than himself; 
nor any disasters to lament, but a cruel mistress, or 
•a bad harvest. 

The conviction of the necessity of some new source 
of pleasure induced Sannazarius to remove the scene 
from the fields to the sea, to substitute fishermen for 
shepherds, and derive his sentiments from the pisca- 
tory life ; for which he has been censured by suc- 
ceeding critics, because the sea is an object of terror, 
and by no means proper to amuse the mind and lay 
the passions asleep. Against this objection he might 
be defended by the established maxim, that the poet 
has a right to select his images, and is no more 
obliged to show the sea in a storm, than the land 
under an inundation ; but may display all the pleas- 
ures, and conceal the dangers of the water, as he 
may lay his shepherd under a shady beech, without 
giving him an ague, or letting a wild beast loose 
upon him. 

NO. 36. RAMBLER. 277 

There are, however, two defects in the piscatory 
eclogue, which, perhaps, cannot be supplied. The 
sea, though in hot countries it is considered by those 
who live, like Sannazarius, upon the coast, as a place 
of pleasure and diversion, has, notwithstanding, 
much less variety than the land, and, therefore, will 
be sooner exhausted by a descriptive writer. When 
he has once shown the sun rising or setting upon it, 
curled its waters with the vernal breeze, rolled the 
waves in gentle succession to the shore, and enumer- 
ated the fish sporting in the shallows, he has nothing 
remaining but what is common to all other poetry, 
the complaint of a nymph for a drowned lover, or 
the indignation of a fisher that his oysters are re- 
fused, and My con's accepted. 

Another obstacle to the general reception of this 
kind of poetry, is the ignorance of maritime pleas- 
ures, in which the greater part of mankind must al- 
ways live. To all the inland inhabitants of every 
region, the sea is only known as an immense diffu- 
sion of waters, over which men pass from one 
country to another, and in which life is frequently 
lost. They have, therefore, no opportunity of tracing 
in their own thoughts the descriptions of winding 
shores and calm bays, nor can look on the poem in 
which they are mentioned with other sensation 
than on a sea chart, or the metrical geography of 

This defect, Sannazarius was hindered from per- 
ceiving, by writing in a learned language to readers 
generally acquainted with the works of nature ; but 
if he had made his attempt in any vulgar tongue, 
he would soon have discovered how vainly he had 
endeavoured to make that loved, which was not 

I am afraid it will not be found easy to improve 

278 RAMBLER. NO. 37. 

the pastorals of antiquity, by any great additions or 
diversifications. Our descriptions may, indeed, differ 
from those of Virgil, as an English from an Italian 
summer, and, in some respects, as modern from an- 
cient life ; but as nature is in both countries nearly 
the same, and as poetry has to do rather with the 
passions of men, which are uniform, than their cus- 
toms, which are changeable, the varieties, which 
time or place can furnish, will be inconsiderable ; 
and I shall endeavour to show, in the next paper, 
how little the latter ages have contributed to the 
improvement of the rustic muse. 

No. 37. TUESDAY, JULY 24, 1750. 

Canto, qim solitus, si quando armenta vocabat, 

Aniphion JDircceus. — virg. ecl. ii. 23. 

Such strains I sing as once Aniphion pla^^'d, 
When list'ning flocks the powerful call obey'd. 


In writing or judging of pastoral poetry, neither 
the authors nor critics of latter times seem to have 
paid sufficient regard to the originals left us by an- 
tiquity, but have entangled themselves with unneces- 
sary difficulties by advancing principles, which, 
havino; no foundation in the nature of thino;s, are 
wholly to be rejected from a species of composition, 
in which, above all others, mere nature is to be re- 

NO. 37. RAMBLER. - 279 

It is, therefore, necessary to inquire after some 
more distinct and exact idea of this kind of writing. 
This may, I think, be easily found in the pastorals 
of Yirgil, from whose opinion it will not appear very 
safe to depart, if we consider that every advantage 
of nature, and of fortune, concuiTed to complete his 
productions ; that he was born with great accuracy 
and severity of judgment, enlightened with all the 
learning of one of the brightest ages, and embellished 
with the elegance of the Roman court ; that he em- 
ployed his powers rather in improving than invent- 
ing, and, therefore, must have endeavoured to 
recompense the want of novelty by exactness ; 
that, taking Theocritus for his original, he found 
pastoral far advanced towards perfection, and that, 
having so great a rival, he must have proceeded 
with uncommon caution. 

If we search the writings of Yirgil, for the true 
definition of a pastoral, it will be found a poem in 
which any action or passion is represented by its 
effects upon a country life. Whatsoever, therefore, 
may, according to the common course of things, 
happen in the country, may afford a subject for a 
pastoral poet. 

In this definition, it will immediately occur to 
those who are versed in the writings of the modern 
critics, that there is no mention of the golden asre. 

' CO 

I cannot, indeed, easily discover why it is thought 
necessary to refer descriptions of a rural state to 
remote times, nor can I perceive that any writer 
has consistently preserved the Arcadian manners 
and sentiments. The only reason, that I have read, 
on which this rule has been founded, is, that, ac- 
cording to the customs of modern life, it is improb- 
able that shepherds should be capable of harmonious 
numbers, or delicate sentiments ; and, therefore, the 

280 RAMBLER. NO. 37, 

reader must exalt his ideas of the pastoral character, 
by carrying his thoughts back to the age in which 
the care of herds and flocks was the employment of 
the wisest and greatest men. 

Tliese reasoners seem to have been led into their 
hypothesis, by considering pastoral, not in general 
as a representation of rural nature, and consequently 
as exhibiting the ideas and sentiments of those, 
whoever they are, to whom the country affords pleas- 
ure or employment, but simply as a dialogue, or 
narrative of men actually tending sheep, and busied 
in the lowest and most laborious offices ; from whence 
they very readily concluded, since characters must 
necessarily be preserved, that either the sentiments 
must sink to the level of the speakers, or the speakers 
must be raised to the height of the sentiments. 

In consequence of these original errors, a thousand 
precepts have be.en given, which have only contrib- 
uted to perplex and confound. Some have thought 
it necessary that the imaginary manners of the gold- 
en age should be universally preserved, and have, 
therefore, believed, that nothing more could be ad- 
mitted in pastoral than lilies and roses, and rocks 
and streams, among which are heard the gentle 
whispers of chaste fondness, or the soft complaints 
of amorous impatience. In pastoral, as in other 
writings, chastity of sentiment ought doubtless to be 
observed, and purity of manners to be represented ; 
not because the poet is confined to the images of the 
golden age, but because, having the subject in his 
own choice, he ought always to consult the interest 
of virtue. 

These advocates for the golden age lay down 
other principles, not very consistent with their gen- 
eral plan ; for they tell us, that, to support the 
character of the shepherd, it is proper that all re- 

NO. 37. RAMBLER. 281 

finement should be avoided, and that some slight 
instances of ignorance shonld be interspersed. Thus 
the shepherd in Virgil is supposed to have forgot 
the name of Anaximander, and in Pope the term 
Zodiac is too hard for a rustic apprehension. But 
if we place our shepherds in their primitive condi- 
tion, we may give them learning among their other 
qualifications ; and if we suffer them to allude at all 
to things of later existence, which, perhaps, cannot 
with any great propriety be allowed, there can be 
no danger of making them speak with too much ac- 
curacy, since they conversed with divinities, and 
transmitted to succeeding ages the arts of life. 

Other writers, having the mean and despicable 
condition of a shepherd always before them, conceive 
it necessary to degrade the language of pastoral, by 
obsolete terms and rustic words, which they very 
learnedly call Doric, without reflecting, that they 
thus become authors of a mangled dialect, which no 
human being ever could have spoken, that they may 
as well refine the speech as the sentiments of their 
personages, and that none of the inconsistencies 
which they endeavour to avoid, is greater than that 
of joining elegance of thought with coarseness of 
diction. Spenser begins one of his pastorals with 
studied barbarity : — 

Diggon Davie, I bid hur good-day : 
Or, Diggon hur is, or I missay. 
Dig. Hur was hur while it was daylight, 

But now hur is a most wretched wight. 

What will the reader imagine to be the subject on 
which speakers like these exercise their eloquence ? 
Will he not be somewhat disappointed, when he 
finds them met together to condemn the corruptions 
of the church of Rome ? Surely, at the same time 

282 RAMBLER. NO. 37. 

that a shepherd learns theology, he may gain some 
acquaintance with his native language. 

Pastoral admits of all ranks of persons, because 
persons of all ranks inhabit the country. It ex- 
cludes not, therefore, on account of the characters 
necessary to be introduced, any elevation or deli- 
cacy of sentiment ; those ideas only are improper, 
which, not owing their original to rural objects, are 
not pastoral. Such is the exclamation in Virgil, 

Nunc scio quid sit amor. Durh in cautihus ilium 
Ismarus auf, Rodope, atit extremi Garamnntes, 
Nee generis nostri puerum, nee sanrjuinis edunt. 

viKG. ECL. viii. 43. 

I know thee, love, in deserts thou wert bred, 

And at the dugs of savage tigers fed; 

Alien of birth, usurper of the plains. dryden. 

which Pope endeavouring to copy, was carried to 
still greater impropriety : — 

I know thee, love, wild as the raging main, 
More fierce than tigers on the Libyan plain ; 
Thou wert from Jitna's burning entrails torn, 
Begot in tempests, and in thunders born ! 

Sentiments like these, as they have no ground in 
nature, are, indeed, of little value in any poem; but 
in pastoral they are particularly liable to censure, 
because it wants that exaltation above common life, 
which in tragic or heroic writings often reconciles 
us to bold flights and daring figures. 

Pastoral being the representation of an action or 
passion, by its effects upon a country life, has noth- 
ing peculiar but its confinement to rural imagery, 
without which it ceases to be pastoral. This is its 
true characteristic, and this it cannot lose by any 
dignity of sentiment or beauty of diction. The Pollio 

NO. 37. RAMBLER. 283 

of Yiro"!!, with all its elevation, is a composition 
truly bucolic, though rejected by the critics ; for all 
the images are either taken from the country, or 
from the religion of the age common to all parts of 
the empire. 

The Silenus is, indeed, of a more disputable kind, 
because, though the scene lies in the country, the 
sons being relisious and historical, had been no less 
adapted to any other audience or place. Neither 
can it well be defended as a fiction, for the introduc- 
tion of a god seems to imply the golden age, and 
yet he alludes to many subsequent transactions, and 
mentions Gallus the poet's contemporary. 

It seems necessary to the perfection of this poem, 
that the occasion which is supposed to produce it, be 
at least not inconsistent with a country life, or less 
likely to interest those who have retired into places 
of solitude and quiet, than the more busy part of 
mankind. It is, therefore, improper to give the- title 
of a pastoral to verses, in which the speakers, after 
the slight mention of their flocks, fall to complaints 
of errors in the church, and corruptions in the govern- 
ment, or to lamentations of the death of some illus- 
trious person, whom, when once the poet has called 
a shepherd, he has no longer any labour upon his 
hands, but can make the clouds weep, and lilies 
wither, and the sheep hang their heads, without art 
or learning, genius or study. 

It is part of Claudian's character of his rustic, 
that he computes his time not by the succession of 
consuls, but of harvests. Those who pass their days 
in retreats distant from the theatres of business, are 
always least likely to hurry their imagination with 
public affairs. 

The facility of treating actions or events in the 
pastoral style, has incited many writers, from whom 

284 RAMBLER. NO. 38. 

more judgment might have been expected, to put 
the sorrow or the joy which the occasion required 
into the mouth of Daphne or of Thyrsis ; and as 
one absurdity must naturally be expected to make 
way for another, they have written with an utter 
disregard both of life and nature, and filled their 
productions with mythological allusions, with in- 
credible fictions, and with sentiments which neither 
passion nor reason could have dictated, since the 
change which religion has made in the whole sys- 
tem of the world. 

No. 38. SATURDAY, JULY 28, 1750. 

Auream quisquis mediocritaiem 
Diligit, tutus caret obsoleti 
Soraibus tectl ; caret invidenda 

Sobrius aula. hok. car. ii. 10. 6. 

The mp.n within the golden mean, 

Who can his boldest wish contain, 

Securely views the ruin'd cell, 

Where sordid want and sorrow dwell; 

And in himself sei-enely great, 

Declines an envied room of state. francis. 

Among many parallels which men of imagination 
have drawn between the natural and moral state of 
the world, it has been observed that happiness, as 
well as virtue, consists in mediocrity ; that to avoid 
every extreme is necessary, even to him that has no 
other care than to pass through the present state with 
ease and safety ; and that the middle path is the 

NO. 38. RAMBLER. 285 

road of security, on either side of which are not 
only the pitfalls of vice, but the precipices of ruin. 

Thus the maxim of Cleobulus, the Lindian, 
uirpov apiarov, ' Mediocrity is best,' has been long 
considered an universal principle, extended through 
the whole compass of life and nature. The experi- 
ence of every age seems to have given it new con- 
firmation, and to show that nothing, however specious 
or alluring, is pursued with propriety, or enjoyed 
with safety, beyond certain limits. 

Even the gifts of nature, which may truly be con- 
sidered as the most solid and durable of all terrestrial 
advantages, are found, when they exceed the middle 
point, to draw the possessor into many calamities, 
easily avoided by others that have been less bounti- 
fully enriched or adorned. We see every day 
women perish with infamy, by having been too will- 
ing to set their beauty to show; and others, though 
not with equal guilt or misery, yet with very sharp 
remorse, languishing in decay, neglect, and obscu- 
rity, for having rated their youthful charms at too 
high a price. And, indeed, if the opinion of Bacon 
be thought to deserve much regard, very few sighs 
would be vented for eminent and superlative ele- 
gance of form ; ' for beautiful women,' says he, ' are 
seldom of any great accomplishments, because they, 
for the most part, study behaviour rather than 

Health and vigour, and a happy constitution of 
the corporeal frame, are of absolute necessity to the 
enjoyment of the comforts, and to the performance 
of the duties of life, and requisite in yet a greater 
measure to the accomplishment of any thing illus- 
trious or distinguished ; yet even these, if we can 
judge by their apparent consequences, are some- 
times not very beneficial to those on whom they are 

286 RAMBLER. NO. 38.. 

most liberally bestowed. They that frequent the 
chambers of the sick, will generally find the sharpest 
pains, and most stubborn maladies, among them 
whom confidence of the force of nature formerly 
betrayed to negligence and irregularity ; and that 
superfluity of strength, which was at once their 
boast and their snare, has often, in the latter part 
of life, no other effect than that it continues them 
long in impotence and anguish. 

These gifts of nature are, however, always bless- 
ings in themselves, and to be acknowledged with 
gratitude to Him that gives them ; since they are, in 
their regular and legitimate effects, productive of 
happiness, and prove pernicious only by voluntary 
corruption or idle negligence. And as there is little 
danger of pursuing them with too much ardour or 
anxiety, because no skill or diligence can hope to 
procure them, the uncertainty of their influence 
upon our lives is mentioned, not to depreciate their 
real value, but to repress the discontent and envy 
to which the want of them often gives occasion in 
those who do not enough suspect their own frailty, 
nor consider how much less is the calamity of not 
possessing great powers, than of not using them 

Of all those things that make us superior to others, 
there is none so much within the reach of our en- 
deavours as riches, nor any thing more eagerly or 
constantly desired. Poverty is an evil always in 
our view, an evil complicated with so many circum- 
stances of uneasiness and vexation, that every man 
is studious to avoid it. Some degree of riches is 
therefore required, that we may be exempt from 
the gripe of necessity; when this purpose is once 
attained, we naturally wish for more, that the evil 
which is regarded with so much horror, may be yet 

NO. 38. RAMBLER. ' 287 

at a greater distance from us ; as he that has once 
felt or dreaded the paw of a savage, will not be at 
rest till they are parted by some barrier, which may 
take away all possibility of a second attack. 

To this point, if fear be not unreasonably indulged, 
Cleobulus would, perhaps, not refuse to, extend his 
mediocrity. But it almost always happens, that the 
man who grows rich changes his notions of poverty, 
states his wants by some new measure, and, from 
flying the enemy that pursued him, bends his en- 
deavours to overtake those whom he sees before 
him. The power of gratifying his appetites increases 
their demands ; a thousand wishes crowd in upon 
him, importunate to be satisfied, and vanity and 
ambition open prospects to desire, which still grow 
wider, as they are more contemplated. 

Thus in tame want is enlarged without bounds ; 
an eagerness for increase of possessions deluges the 
soul, and we sink into the gulfs of insatiability, 
only because we do not sufficiently consider, that all 
real need is very soon supplied, and all real danger 
of its invasion easily precluded ; that the claims of 
vanity, being without limits, must be denied at last ; 
and that the pain of repressing them is less pungent 
before they have been long accustomed to compli- 

Whosoever shall look heedfully upon those who 
are eminent for their riches, will not think their 
condition such as that he should hazard his quiet, 
and much less his virtue, to obtain it. For all that 
great wealth generally gives above a moderate for- 
tune, is more room for the freaks of caprice, and 
more privilege for ignorance and vice, a quicker 
succession of flatteries, and a larger circle of volup- 

There is one reason seldom remarked which 

288 RAMBLER. NO. 38. 

makes riches less desirable. Too much wealth is 
very frequently the occasion of poverty. He whom 
the wantonness of abundance has once softened, easily 
sinks into neglect of his affairs ; and he that thinks 
he can afford to be negligent, is not far from being 
poor. He will soon be involved in perplexities 
which his inexperience will render unsurmountable ; 
he will fly for help to those whose interest it is that 
he should be more distressed, and will be at last torn 
to pieces by the vultures that always hover over for- 
tunes in decay. 

When the plains of India were burnt up by a long 
continuance of drought, Hamet and Raschid, two 
neighbouring shepherds, faint with thirsjt, stood at 
the common boundary of their grounds, with their 
flocks and herds panting round them, and, in ex- 
tremity of distress, prayed for water. On a sudden 
the air was becalmed, the birds ceased to chirp, and 
the flocks to bleat. They turned their eyes every 
way, and saw a being of mighty stature advancing 
through the valley, whom they knew upon his nearer 
approach to be the Genius of Distribution. In one 
hand he held the sheaves of plenty, and in the other 
the sabre of destruction. The shepherds stood trem- 
bling, and would have retired before him ; but he 
called to them with a voice gentle as the breeze that 
plays in the evening among the spices of Sabaea: 
' Fly not from your benefactor, children of the dust ! 
I am come to offer you gifts, which only your own 
folly can make vain. You here pray for water, and 
water I will bestow ; let me know with how much 
you will be satisfied : speak not rashly ; consider, 
that of whatever can be enjoyed by the body, excess 
is no less dangerous than scarcity. 'Wlien you 
remember the pain of thirst, do not forget the 
danger of suffocation. Now, Hamet, tell me your 

NO. 38. KAMBLER. 2^9 

' Being, kiiid and beneficent,' says Hamet, 'let 
thine eje pardon mj confusion. I entreat a little 
brook, which m summer shall never be diy, and in 
the winter never overflow.' ' It is granted,' replies 
the Genius ; and immediately he opened the ground 
with his sabre, and a fountain bubbling up under 
their feet scattered its rills over the meadows ; the 
flowers renewed their fragrance, the trees spread a 
greener foliage, and the flocks and herds quenched 
their thirst. 

Then turning to Raschid, the Genius invited him 
likewise to otfer his petition. 'I request,' says 
Raschid, ' that thou wilt turn the Ganges through 
my grounds, with all his waters, and all their inhab- 
itants.' Hamet was struck with the greatness of 
his neighbour's sentiments, and secretly repined in 
his heart, that he had not made the same petition 
before him ; when the Genius spoke : ' Rash man, 
be not insatiable ! remember, to thee that is nothing 
which thou canst not use ; and how are thy wants 
greater than the wants of Hamet ? ' Raschid repeated 
his desire, and pleased himself with the mean ap- 
pearance that Hamet would make in the presence 
of the proprietor of the Ganges. The Genius then 
retired towards the river, and the two shepherds 
stood waiting the event. As Raschid was looking 
with contempt upon his neighbour, on a sudden was 
heard the roar of torrents, and they found by the 
mighty stream that the mounds of the Ganges Avere 
broken. The flood rolled forward into the lands of 
Raschid, his plantations were torn up, his flocks over- 
whelmed, he was swept away before it, and a croc- 
odile devoured him. 

VOL. XVI. 19 

290 RAMBLER. NO. 39. 

No. 39. TUESDAY, JULY 31, 1750. 

Infdvx — nulli bene nupta marito. ausonius. 

Unblest, still doom'd to wed with misery. 

The condition of the female sex has been fre- 
quently the subject of comjDassion to medical writers, 
because their constitution of body is such, that every 
state of life brings its peculiar diseases : they are 
placed, according to the proverb, between Scylla and 
Charybdis, with no other choice than of dangers 
equally formidable ; and whether they embrace mar- 
riage, or determine upon a single life, are exposed, 
in consequence of their choice, to sickness, misery, 
and death. 

It were to be wished that so great degree of nat- 
ural mfelicity might not be increased by adventitious 
and artificial miseries ; and that beings, whose beauty 
we cannot behold without admiration, and whose 
delicacy we cannot contemplate without tenderness, 
might be suffered to enjoy every alleviation of their 
sorrows. But, however it has happened, the custom 
of the world seems to have been formed in a kind 
of conspiracy against them, though it does not appear 
but they had themselves an equal share in its estabhsh- 
ment ; and prescriptions which, by whomsoever they 
were begun, are now of long continuance, and by 
consequence of great authority, seem to have almost 
excluded them from content, in whatsoever condition 
they shall pass their lives. 

NO. 39. RAMBLER. 291 

If they refuse the society of men, and continue in 
that state which is reasonably supposed to place hap- 
piness most in their own power, they seldom give 
those that frequent their conversation, any exalted 
notions of the blessings of liberty ; for whether it be 
that they are angry to see with what inconsiderate 
eagerness other heedless females rush into slavery, 
or with what absurd vanity the married ladies boast 
the change of their condition, and condemn the hero- 
ines who endeavour to assert the natural dignity of 
theu' sex ; whether they are conscious that, like barren 
countries, they are free, only because they were never 
thought to deserve the trouble of a conquest, or ima- 
gine that their smcerity is not always unsuspected, 
when they declare their contempt of men ; it is cer- 
tain, that they generally appear to have some great 
and incessant cause of uneasiness, and that many of 
them have at last been persuaded, by powerful rheto- 
ricians, to try the life which they have so long con- 
temned, and put on the bridal ornaments at a time 
when they least became them. 

What are the real causes of the impatience which 
the ladies discover in a virgin state, I shall, perhaps, 
take some other occasion to examine. That it is not 
to be envied for its happiness, appears from the soli- 
citude with which it is avoided; from the oj)inion 
universally prevalent among the sex, that no woman 
continues long in it but because she is not invited to 
forsake it ; from the disposition always shown to treat 
old maids as the refuse of the world ; and from the 
willingness -v^dth which it is often quitted at last, by 
those whose experience has enabled them to judge at 
leisure, and decide with authority. 

Yet such is life, that whatever is proposed, it is 
much easier to find reasons for rejectmg than em- 
bracing. Marriage, though a certain security from 

292 RAMBLER. NO. 39. 

the reproacli and solitude of antiquated virginity, has 
yet, as it is usually conducted, many disadvantages, 
that take away much from the pleasure which society 
promises, and might atford, if pleasures and pains 
were honestly shared, and mutual confidence inviola- 
bly preserved. 

The miseries, indeed, wliich many ladies suffer 
under conjugal vexations, are to be considered with 
great pity, because their husbands are often not taken 
by them as objects of affection, but forced upon them 
by authority and violence, or by persuasion and im- 
portunity, equally resistless when urged by those 
whom they have been always accustomed to rev- 
erence and obey ; and it very seldom appears, that 
those who are thus despotic in the disposal of their 
children pay any regard to their domestic and per- 
sonal felicity, or think it so much to be inquired 
whether they will be happy, as whether they will 
be rich. 

It may be urged, in extenuation of this crime, 
which parents, not in any other respect to be num- 
bered with robbers and assassins, frequently commit, 
that, in their estimation, riches and happiness are 
equivalent terms. They have passed their lives with 
no other wish than that of adding acre to acre, and 
filling one bag after another, and imagine the advan- 
tage of a daughter sufficiently considered, when they 
have secured her a large jointure, and given her 
reasonable expectations of living in the midst of those 
pleasures with which she had seen her father and 
mother solacing their age. 

There is an economical oracle received among the 
prudential part of the world, which advises fathers 
' to marry their daughters lest they should marry 
themselves ; ' by which I suppose it is implied, that 
women left to their own conduct, generally unite 

NO. 39. RAMBLER. 293 

themselves with such partners as can contribute very 
little to theu' felicity. Who was the author of this 
maxim, or with what intention it was originally ut- 
tered, I have not yet discovered ; but imagine that, 
however solemnly it may be transmitted, or however 
implicitly received, it can confer no authority which 
nature has denied, it cannot license Titius to be un- 
just, lest Caia should be imprudent ; nor give right 
to imprison for hfe, lest liberty should be ill em- 

That the ladies have sometimes incurred imputa- 
tions which might naturally produce edicts not much 
in their favour, must be confessed by their warmest 
advocates ; and I have, indeed, seldom observed, that 
when the tenderness or virtue of their parents has 
preserved them from forced marriage, and left them 
at large to choose their own path in the labyrinth of 
life, they have made any great advantage of their 
liberty ; they commonly take the opportunity of in- 
dependence to trifle away youth, and lose their 
bloom in a hurry of diversions, recurrmg in a suc- 
cession too quick to leave room for any settled 
reflection ; they see the world without gaining ex- 
perience, and at last regulate their choice by motives 
trifling as those of a girl, or mercenary as those of 
a miser. 

Melanthia came to town upon the death of her 
father, with a very large fortune, and with the repu- 
tation of a much larger ; she was, therefore, followed 
and caressed by many men of rank, and by some of 
understanding; but having an insatiable desire of 
pleasure, she was not at leisure, from the park, the 
gardens, the theatres, visits, assemblies, and mas- 
querades, to attend seriously to any proposal, but was 
still impatient for a new flatterer, and neglected 
marriage as always in her power ; till in time her 

294 RAMBLER. NO. 39. 

admirers fell away, wearied with expense, disgusted 
at her folly, or offended by her inconstancy ; she 
heard of concerts to which she was not invited, and 
was more than once forced to sit still at an assembly 
for want of a partner. In this distress, chance threw 
in her way Philotryphus, a man vain, glittering, and 
thouglitless as herself, who had spent a small for- 
tune in equipage and dress, and was shining m the 
last suit for which his tailor would give him credit. 
He had been long endeavourmg to retrieve his ex- 
travagance by marriage, and, therefore, soon paid 
his court to Melanthia, who, after some weeks of 
insensibility, saw him at a ball, and was wholly 
overcome by his performance in a minuet. They 
married ; but a man cannot always dance, and Phil- 
otryphus had no other method of j)leasing ; however, 
as neither was in any great degree vicious, they live 
together with no other unhappiness than vacuity of 
mind, and that tastelessness of life, which proceeds 
from a satiety of juvenile pleasures, and an utter 
inability to fill their place • by nobler employments. 
As they have known the fashionable world at the 
same time, they agree in their notions of all those 
subjects on which they ever speak, and being able 
to add nothing to the ideas of each other, are not 
much inclined to conversation, but very often join in 
one wish, ' That they could sleep more, and think 

Argyris, after having refused a thousand offers, 
at last consented to marry Cotylus, the younger 
brother of a duke, a man without elegance of mien, 
beauty of person, or force of understanding; who, 
while he courted her, could not always forbear allu- 
sions to her birth, and hints how cheaply she would 
purchase an alliance to so illustrious a family. His 
conduct from the hour of his marriage has been in- 

NO. 40. ■ RAMBLER. 295 

sufferably tyrannical, nor has he any other regard 
to her than what arises from his desii'e that her 
appearance may not disgrace him. Upon this prin- 
ciple, however, he always orders that she should be 
gayly dressed and splendidly attended ; and she has, 
among all her mortifications, the happiness to take 
place of her eldest sister. 

No. 40. SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 1750. 

— Nee dicei, cur e(]0 nmicum 
Offendam in nugis ? Hoe nugce seria ducent 
In mala derisum semel. — hor. ars poet. 450. 

Nor say, for trifles why should I displease 

The man I love ? For trifles such as these 

To serious mischiefs lead the man I love, 

If once the flatterer's ridicule he prove. francis. 

It has been remarked that authors are genus irri- 
tahile, a generation very easily put out of temper, 
and that they seldom fail of giving proofs of their 
irascibility upon the slightest attack of criticism, or 
the most gentle or modest offer of advice and in- 

Writers being best acquainted with one another, 
have represented this character as prevailing among 
men of literature, which a more extensive view oi' 
the world w^ould have shown them to be diffused 
through all human nature, to mingle itself with every 
species of ambition and desire of praise, and to dis- 
cover its effects with greater or less restraint, and 

296 RAMBLER. NO. 40. 

under disguises more or less artful, in all places and 
all conditions. 

The quarrels of writers, indeed, are more observed, 
because they necessarily appeal to the decision of 
the public. Their enmities are incited by applauses 
from their parties, and prolonged by treacherous 
encouragement for general diversion ; and when the 
contest happens to rise high between men of genius 
and learning, its memory is continued for the same 
reason as its vehemence was at first promoted, be- 
cause it gratifies the malevolence or curiosity of 
readers, and relieves the vacancies of life with amuse- 
ment and laughter. The personal disputes, therefore, 
of rivals in wit, are sometimes transmitted to poster- 
ity, when the grudges and heart-burnings of men less 
conspicuous, though carried on with equal bitterness, 
and productive of greater evils, are exposed to the 
knowledge of those only Avhom they nearly affect, 
and suffered to pass off and be forgotten among 
common and casual transactions. 

The resentment which the discovery of a fault or 
folly produces, must bear a certain proportion to our 
pride, and will regularly be more acrimonious as 
pride is more immediately the principle of action. 
In whatever, therefore, we wish or imagine ourselves 
to excel, we shall always be displeased to have our 
claims to reputation disputed ; and more displeased, 
if the accomplishment be such as can expect reputa- 
tion only for its reward. For this reason, it is 
common to find men break out into rage at any 
insinuations to the disadvantage of their wit, who 
have borne with great patience reflections on their 
morals ; and of women, it has been always known, 
that no censure wounds so deeply, or rankles so 
long, as that which charges them with want of 

NO. 40. RAMBLER. 297 

As men frequently fill their imaginations with 
trifling pursuits, and please themselves most with 
things of small importance, I have often known very 
severe and lasting malevolence excited by unlucky 
censures, which would have fallen without any effect, 
had they not happened to wound a part remarkably 
tender. Gustulus, who valued himself upon the 
nicety of his palate, disinherited his eldest son for 
tellino; him that the wine, which he was then com- 
mending, was the same which he had sent away the 
day before as not fit to be drunk. Proculus with- 
drew his kindness from a nephew, whom he had 
always considered as the most promising genius of 
the age, for haj^peniug to praise in his presence the 
graceful horsemanship of Marius. And Fortunio, 
when he was privy-councillor, procured a clerk 
to be dismissed from one of the public offices, in 
which he was eminent for his skill and assiduity, be- 
cause he had been heard to say, that there was an- 
other man in the kingdom on whose skill at billiards 
he would lay his money against Fortunio's. 

Felicia and Floretta had been bred up in one 
house, and shared all the pleasures and endearments 
of infancy together. They entered upon life at the 
same time, and continued their confidence and friend- 
ship ; consulted each other in every change of their 
dress, and every admission of a new lover ; thought 
every diversion more entertaining whenever it hap- 
pened that both were present, and when separated 
justified the conduct, and celebrated the excellences, 
of one another. Such was their intimacy, and such 
their fidelity; till a birthnight approached, when 
Floretta took one morning an opportunity, as they 
were consulting upon new clothes, to advise her 
friend not to dance at the ball, and informed her that 
her performance the year before had not answered 

298 RAMBLER. NO. 40. 

the expectation which her other accomplishments 
had raised. Felicia commended her sincerity, and 
thanked her for the caution ; but told her that she 
danced to please herself, and was in very little con- 
cern what the men might take the liberty of saying, 
but that if her appeai"ance gave her dear Floretta 
any uneasiness she would stay away. Floretta had 
now nothing left but to make new protestations of 
sincerity and affection, with which Felicia was so 
well satisfied, that they parted with more than usual 
fondness. They still continued to visit, with this 
only difference, that Felicia was more punctual than 
before, and often declared how high a value she put 
upon sincerity, how much she thought tliat goodness 
to be esteemed which would venture to admonish a 
friend of an error, and with what gratitude advice 
was to be received, even when it might happen to 
proceed from mistake. 

In a few months Felicia, with great seriousness 
told Floretta, that though her beauty was such as 
gave charms to whatever she did, and her qualifica- 
tions so extensive, that she could not fail of excel- 
lence in any attempt, yet she thought herself obliged 
by the duties of friendship to inform her, that if ever 
she betrayed want of judgment, it was by too fre- 
quent compliance with solicitations to sing, for that 
her manner was somewhat ungraceful, and her voice 
had no great compass. It is true, says Floretta, 
when I sung three nights ago at Lady Sprightly's, 
I was hoarse with a cold; but I sing for my own. 
satisfaction, and am not in the least pain whether 
I am liked. However, my dear Felicia's kindness is 
not the less, and I shall always think myself happy 
in so true a friend. 

From this time they never saw each other with- 
out mutual professions of esteem, and declarations 

NO. 40. RAMBLER. 299 

of confidence, but went soon after into the country 
to visit their relations. When thej came back, they 
were prevailed on, by the importunity of new ac- 
quaintance, to take lodgings in different parts of the 
town, and had frequent occasion when they met, to 
bewail the distance at which they were placed, and 
the uncertainty which each experienced of finding 
the other at home; 

Thus are the fondest and firmest friendships dis- 
solved, by such openness and sincerity as interrupt 
our enjoyment of our own approbation, or recall us 
to the remembrance of those failings which we are 
more willing to indulge than to correct. 

It is by no means necessary to imagine, that he 
who is offended at advice was ignorant of the fault, 
and resents the admonition as a false charge ; for 
perhaps it is most natural to be enraged, when there 
is the strongest conviction of our own guilt. While 
we can easily defend our character, we are no more 
disturbed at an accusation, than we are alarmed by 
an enemy whom we are sure to conquer ; and whose 
attack, therefore, will bring us honour without danger. 
But when a man feels the reprehension of a friend 
seconded by his own heart, he is easily heated into 
resentment and revenge, either because he hoped 
that the fault of which he was conscious had escaped 
the notice of others ; or that his friend has looked 
upon it with tenderness and extenuation, and ex- 
cused it for the sake of his other virtues ; or had 
considered him as too wise to need advice, or too 
delicate to be shocked with reproach : or, because 
we cannot feel without pain those reflections roused, 
which we have been endeavouring to lay asleep ; and 
when pain has produced anger, who would not 
willingly beheve, that it ought to be discharged on 
others, rather than on hunself ? 

300 RAMBLER. NO. 40. 

The resentment produced by sincerity, whatever 
be its immediate cause, is so certain, and generally 
80 keen, that very few have magnanimity sufficient 
for the practice of a duty, which, above most others, 
exposes its votaries to hardships and persecutions ; 
yet friendship without it is of a very little value, 
since the great use of so close an intimacy, is, that 
our virtues may be guarded and encouraged, and 
our vices repressed in their first appearance by time- 
ly detection and salutary remonstrances. 

It is decreed by Providence, that nothing truly 
valuable shall be obtained in our present state, but 
with difficulty and danger. He that hopes for that 
advantage which is to be gained from unrestrained 
communication, must sometimes hazard, by unpleas- 
ing truths, that friendship which he aspires to merit. 
The chief rule to be observed in the exercise of this 
dangerous office, is to preserve it pure from all mixt- 
ure of interest or vanity ; to forbear admonition or 
reproof, when our consciences tell us that they are 
incited, not by the hopes of reforming faults, but the 
desire of showing our discernment, or gratifying our 
own pride by the mortification of another. It is not 
indeed certain, that the most refined caution will 
find a proper time for bringing a man to the knowl- 
edge of his own failin<2:s, or the most zealous benev- 
olence reconcile him to that judgment, by which 
they are detected ; but he who endeavours only the 
happiness of him whom he reproves, will always 
have either the satisfaction of obtaining or deserving 
kindness ; if he succeeds, he benefits his friend ; and 
if he fails, he has at least the consciousness that he 
suffers for only doing well. 

NO. 41. RAMBLER. 301. 

No. 41. TUESDAY, AUGUST 7, 1750. 

Nulla recordanii lux est ingrata gravisque : 

Nulla J'uit cujus non meminisse velit. 
Ampliat cetatis sjMtium sibi vir bonus : hoc est, 

Vivere bis, vita posse priore frui. 

MART. EP. X. 23. 5. 

No day's remembrance shall the good regret, 

Nor wish one bitter moment to forget; 

They stretch the limits of this naiTow span, 

And, by enjoying, live past life again. f. lewis. 

So few of the hours of life are filled up with ob- 
jects adequate to the mind of man, and so frequently 
are we in want of present pleasure or employment, 
that we are forced to have recourse every moment 
to the past and future for supplemental satisfactions, 
and relieve the vacuities of our being, by recol- 
lection of former passages, or anticipation of events 
to come. 

I cannot but consider this necessity of searching 
on every side for matter on which the attention may 
be employed, as a strong proof of the superior and 
celestial nature of the soul of man. We have no 
reason to believe that other creatures have higher 
faculties, or more extensive capacities, than the pres- 
ervation of themselves, or their species, requires ; 
they seem always to be fully employed, or to be 
completely at ease without employment, to feel few 
intellectual miseries or pleasures, and to have no 
exuberance of understanding to lay out upon curios- 
ity or caprice, but to have their minds exactly 

302 RAMBLER. NO. 41. 

adapted to their bodies, with few other ideas than 
such as corporal pain or pleasure impress upon 

Of memory, which makes so large a part of the 
excellence of the human soul, and which has so much 
influence upon all its other powers, but a small por- 
tion has been allotted to the animal world. We do 
not find the grief with which the dams lament the 
loss of their young, proportionate to the tenderness 
with which they caress, the assiduity with Avhich 
they feed, or the vehemence with which they de- 
fend them. Their regard for their offspring, when 
it is before their eyes, is not, in appearance, less 
than that of a human parent ; but when it is taken 
away, it is very soon forgotten, and, after a short 
absence, if brought again, wholly disregarded. 

That they have very little remembrance of any 
thing once out of the reach of their senses, and 
scarce any power of comparing the present with the 
past, and regulating their conclusions from ex- 
perience, may be gathered from this, that their in- 
tellects are produced in their full perfection. The 
sparrow that was hatched last spring makes her first 
nest the ensuing season of the same materials, and 
with the same art, as in any following year ; and the 
hen conducts and shelters her first brood of chickens 
with all the prudence that she ever attains. 

It has been asked by men who love to perplex 
any thing that is plain to common understandings, 
how reason differs from instinct ; and Prior has, Avith 
no great propriety, made Solomon himself declare, 
that, to distinguish them, is the fool's ignorance, and 
the pedant's pride. To give an accurate answer to 
a question, of which the terms are not completely 
understood, is impossible ; we do not know in what 
either reason or instinct consist, and, therefore, can- 

NO. 41. RAMBLER. 303 

not tell with exactness how they differ ; but surely 
he that contemplates a ship and a bird's nest, will 
not be lono- without findino- out, that the idea of the 
one was impressed at once, and continued through 
all the progressive descents of the species, without 
variation or improvement ; and that the other is the 
result of experiments compared with experiments, 
has grown, by accumulated observations, from less 
to greater excellence, and exhibits the collective 
knowledge of different ages and various professions. 

Memory is the purveyor of reason, the power 
which places those images before the mind upon 
which the judgment is to be exercised, and which 
treasures u]) the determinations that are once passed, 
as the rules of future action, or grounds of subsequent 

It is, indeed, the faculty of remembrance, which 
may be said to place us in the class of moral agents. 
If we were to act only in consequence of some imme- 
diate impulse, and receive no direction from internal 
motives of choice, we should be pushed forward by 
an invincible fatality, without power or reason for the 
most part to prefer one thing to another ; because 
we could make no comparison but of objects which 
might both happen to be present. 

We owe to memory not only the increase of our 
knowledge, and our progress in rational mquiries, 
but many other intellectual pleasures. Indeed, al- 
most all that we can be said to enjoy is past or 
future ; the present is in perpetual motion, leaves us 
as soon as it arrives, ceases to be present before its 
presence is well perceived, and is only known to 
have existed by the effects which it leaves behind. 
The greatest part of our ideas arises, therefore, from 
the view before or behind us, and we are happy or 

304 RAMBLER. NO. 41. 

miserable, according as we are affected by the survey 
of our life, or our prospect of future existence. 

With regard to futurity, when events are at such 
a distance from us, that we cannot take the whole 
concatenation into our view, we have generally power 
enough over our imagination to turn it upon pleasing 
scenes, and can promise ourselves riches, honours, 
and delights, without intermingling those vexations 
and anxieties with which all human enjoyments are 
polluted. If fear breaks in on one side, and alarms 
us with dangers and disappointments, we can call in 
hope on the other, to solace us with rewards, and 
escapes, and victories ; so that we are seldom without 
means of palliating remote evils, and can generally 
soothe ourselves to tranquillity, whenever any trouble- 
some presage happens to attack us. 

It is, therefore, I believe, much more common for 
the solitary and thoughtful, to amuse themselves with 
schemes of the future, than reviews of the past. For 
the future is pliant and ductile, and will be easily 
moulded by a strong fancy into any form. But the 
images which memory presents are of a stubborn 
and untractable nature, the objects of remembrance 
have already existed, and left their signature behind 
them impressed upon the mind, so as to defy all 
attempts of rasure or of change. 

As the satisfactions, therefore, arising from mem- 
ory are less arbitrary, they are more solid, and 
are, indeed, the only joys which we can call our 
own. Whatever we have once reposited, as Dryden 
expresses it, in the secret treasure of the past, is 
out of the reach of accident, or violence, nor can 
be lost either by our own weakness, or another's 
malice : — 

— Non tamen irritum 
Quodcunque retro est efficiet : neque 

NO. 41. RAMBLER. 305 

Diffinyet, infecfumque reddet, 
Quod fugiens semel hora vexif. 

HOE. CAR. iii. 29. 45. 

Be fair or foul, or rain or shine, 

The joys I have possess' d in spite of fate are mine. 
Not heaven itself upon the past has power. 
But what has been has been, and I have had my hour. 


There is certainly no greater happiness than to 
be able to look back on a life usefully and vu-tuously 
employed, to trace our own progress in existence, by 
such tokens as excite neither shame nor sorrow. 
Life, in which nothing has been done or suffered to 
distinguish one day from another, is to him that has 
passed it as if it had never been, except that he is 
conscious how ill he has husbanded the great deposit 
of his Creator. Life, made memorable by crimes, 
and diversified through its several periods by wick- 
edness, is, indeed, easily reviewed, but reviewed only 
with horror and remorse. 

The great consideration which ought to influence 
us in the use of the present moment, is to arise from 
the effect, which, as well or ill applied, it must have 
upon the time to come ; for though its actual exist- 
ence be inconceivably short, yet its effects are unlim- 
ited; and there is not the smallest point of time 
but may extend its consequences, either to our hurt 
or our advantage, through all eternity, and give us 
reason to remember it forever, with anguish or 

The time of life, in which memory seems particu- 
larly to claim predominance over the other faculties 
of the mind, is our declining age. It has been re- 
marked by former writers, that old men are gener- 
ally narrative, and fall easily into recitals of past 
transactions, and accounts of persons known to them 

VOL. XVI. 20 

306 RAMBLER. NO. 41. 

in their youth. When we approach the verge of the 
grave it is more eminently true : — 

Vitce summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam. 

HOK. CAR. i. 4. 15. 

Life's span forbids thee to extend thy cares, 

And stretch thy hopes beyond thy years. creech. 

We have no longer any possibility of great vicis- 
situdes in our favour; the changes which are to 
happen in the world will come too late for our ac- 
commodation; and those who have no hope before 
them, and to whom their present state is painful and 
irksome, must of necessity turn their thoughts back 
to try what retrospect will afford. It ought, there- 
fore, to be the care of those who wish to pass the 
last hours with comfort, to lay up such a treasure of 
pleasing ideas, as shall support the expenses of that 
time, which is to depend wholly upon the fund al- 
ready acquired. 

— Petite hinc^juvenesque senesque 
Finem animo cerium, miserisque viatica curis 

Seek here, ye young, the anchor of your mind ; 
Here, suflfering age, a bless' d provision find. 


In youth, however unhappy, we solace ourselves 
with the hope of better fortune, and however vicious, 
appease our consciences with intentions of repent- 
ance ; but the time comes at last, in which life has 
no more to promise, in which happiness can be drawn 
only from recollection, and virtue will be all that we 
can recollect with pleasure. 

NO. 42. RAMBLER. 307 

No. 42. SATURDAY, AUGUST 11, 1750. 

— JUihi tarda fluuni ingrataque tempora. — 

HOE. EPIST. i. 1. 23. 

How heavily my time revolves along. elphin'ston. 

"mr. kambler, 

"I AM no great admirer of grave writings, and, 
therefore, very frequently lay your papers aside be- 
fore I have read them through ; yet I cannot but 
confess that, by slow degrees, you have raised my 
opmion of your understanding, and that, though I 
believe it will be long before I can be prevailed upon 
to regard you with much kindness, you have, how- 
ever, more of my esteem than those whom I some- 
times make happy with opportunities to fill my 
teapot, or pick up my fan. I shall, therefore, choose 
you for the confidant of my distresses, and ask your 
counsel with regard to the means of conquering or 
escaping them, though I never expect from you'any 
of that softness and pliancy, which constitutes the 
perfection of a companion for the ladies ; as, in the 
place where I now am, I have recourse to the mastiflf 
for protection, though I have no intention of making 
him a lapdog. 

" My mamma is a very fine lady, who has more 
numerous and more frequent assembHes at our house, 
than any other person in the same quarter of the 
town. I was bred from my earliest infancy in a 

308 RAMBLER. NO. 42. 

perpetual tumult of pleasure, and remember to have 
heard of little else than messages, visits, play-houses, 
and balls ; of the awkwardness of one woman, and 
the coquetry of another ; the charming convenience 
of some rising fashion, the difficulty of playing a new 
game, the incidents of a masquerade, and the dresses 
of a court-night. I knew before I was ten years old 
all the rules of paying and receiving visits, and to 
how much civility every one of my acquaintance 
was entitled : and was able to return, with the proper 
degree of reserve, or of vivacity, the stated and estab- 
lished answer to every compliment; so that I was 
very soon celebrated as a wit and a beauty, and had 
heard before I was thirteen all that is ever said 
to a young lady. My mother was generous to so 
uncommon a degree as to be pleased with my ad- 
vance into life, and allowed me, without envy or 
reproof, to enjoy the same happiness with herself; 
though most women about her own age were very 
angry to see young girls so forward, and many fine 
gentlemen told her how cruel it was to throw new 
chains upon mankind, and to tyrannize over them at 
the same time with her own charms, and those of 
her daughter. 

" I have now lived two and twenty years, and 
have passed of each year nine months in town, and 
three at Richmond ; so that my time has been spent 
uniformly in the same company, and the same 
amusements, except as fashion has introduced new 
diversions, or the revolutions of the gay world have 
afforded new successions of wits and beaus. How- 
ever, my mother is so good an economist of pleasure, 
that I have no spare hours upon my hands ; for 
every morning brings some new appointment, and 
every night is hurried away by the necessity of 
making our appearance at different places, and of 

NO. 42. RAMBLER. 309 

being with one lady at the opera, and with another 
at the card-table. 

" When the time came of settling our scheme of 
felicity for the summer, it was determined that I 
should pay a visit to a rich aunt in a remote country. 
As you know the chief conversation of all tea-tables, 
in the spring, arises from a communication of the 
manner in which time is to be passed till winter, it 
was a great rehef to the barrenness of our topics, to 
relate the pleasures that were in store for me, to 
describe my uncle's seat, with the park and gardens, 
the charming walks and beautiful waterfalls ; and 
every one told me how much she envied me, and 
what satisfaction she had once enjoyed in a situation 
of the same kind. 

" As we are all credulous in our own favour, and 
wilUng to imagine some latent satisfaction in any 
thing which we have not experienced, I will confess 
to you, without restraint, that I had suffered my 
head to be filled with expectations of some nameless 
pleasure in a rural Hfe, and that I hoped for the 
happy hour that should set me free from noise, and 
flutter, and ceremony, dismiss me to the peaceful 
shade, and lull me in content and tranquillity. To 
solace myself under the misery of delay, I some- 
times heard a studious lady of my acquaintance read 
pastorals, I was delighted with scarce any talk but 
of leaving the town, and never went to bed with- 
out dreaming of groves, and meadows, and frisking 

" At length I had all my clothes in a trunk, and 
saw the coach at the door ; I sprung in with ecstasy, 
quarrelled with my maid for being too long in tak- 
ing leave of the other servants, and rejoiced as the 
ground grew less which lay between me and the 
completion of my wishes. A few days brought me 

310 RAMBLER. NO. 42. 

to a large old house, encompassed on three sides 
with woody hills, and looking from the front on a 
gentle river, the sight of which renewed all my ex- 
pectations of pleasure, and gave me some regret for 
having lived so long without the enjoyment which 
these delightful scenes were now to afford me. My 
aunt came out to receive me, but in a dress so far 
removed from the present fashion, that I could 
scarcely look upon her without laughter, which 
would have been no kind requital for the trouble 
which she had taken to make herself fine against 
my arrival. The night and the next morning were 
driven along with inquiries about our family ; my 
aunt then explained our pedigree, and told me stories 
of my great-grandfather's bravery in the civil wars ; 
nor was it less than three days before 1 could per- 
suade her to leave me to myself. 

" At last, economy prevailed ; she went in the 
usual manner about her own affairs, and I was at 
liberty to range in the wilderness, and sit by the 
cascade. The novelty of the objects about me 
pleased me for a while, but after a few days they 
were new no longer, and I soon began to perceive 
that the country was not my element ; that shades, 
and flowers, and lawns, and waters, had very soon 
exhausted all their power of pleasing, and that I 
had not in myself any fund of satisfaction with which 
I could supply the loss of my customary amuse- 

" I unhappily told my aunt, in the first warmth of 
our embraces, that I had leave to stay with her ten 
weeks. Six only are yet gone, and how shall I live 
through the remaining four ? I go out and return ; I 
pluck a flower, and throw it away; I catch an insect, 
and when I have examined its colours, set it at 
liberty ; I fling a pebble mto the water, and see one 

NO. 42. RAMBLER. 311 

circle spread after anotlier. "When it chances to 
rain, I walk in the great hall, and watch the minute- 
hand upon the dial, or play with a litter of kittens, 
which the cat happens to have brought in a lucky 

" My aimt is afraid I shall grow melancholy, and 
therefore encourages the neighbonring gentry to visit 
us. They came at first with great eagerness to see 
the fine lady from London, but when ^e met, we 
had no common topic on which we could converse ; 
they had no curiosity after plays, operas, or music ; 
and I find as little satisfaction from theu' accounts 
of the quarrels or alliances of families, whose names, 
when once I can escape, I shall never hear. The 
women have now seen me, know how my gown is 
made, and are satisfied ; the men are generally afraid 
of me, and say little, because they think themselves 
not at liberty to talk rudely. 

" Thus I am condemned to solitude ; the day 
moves slowly forward, and I see the dawn with 
uneasiness, because I consider that night is at a 
great distance. I have tried to sleep by a brook, 
but find its murmurs meffectual ; so that I am forced 
to be awake at least twelve hours, without visits, 
without cards, without laughter, and without flattery. 
I walk because 1 am disgusted with sitting still, and 
sit down because I am weary with walking. 1 have 
no motive to action, nor any object of love, or hate, 
or fear, or inchnation. I caimot dress with sj)irit, 
for I have neither rival nor admirer. I cannot 
dance without a partner, nor be kind, nor cruel, 
without a lover. 

" Such is the life of Euphelia, and such it is likely 
to continue for a month to come. I have not yet 
declared agamst existence, nor called upon the 
Destinies to cut my thread ; but I have sincerely 

312 RAMBLER. NO. 43. 

resolved not to condemn myself to such another 
summer, nor too hastily to flatter myself with happi- 
ness. Yet I have heard, Mr. Rambler, of those 
who never thought themselves so much at ease as in 
solitude, and cannot but suspect it to be some way 
or other my own fault, that, without great pain, 
either of mind or body, I am thus weary of myself: 
that the current of youth stagnates, and that I am 
languishing in a dead calm, for want of some ex- 
ternal impulse. I shall therefore think you a bene- 
factor to our sex, if you will teach me the art of 
living alone ; for I am confident that a thousand and 
a thousand and a thousand ladies, who affect to talk 
with ecstasies of the pleasures of the country, are in 
reality, like me, longing for the winter, and wishing 
to be delivered from themselves by company and 

" I am, Sir, Yours, 


No. 43. TUESDAY, AUGUST 14, 1750. 

Flumine perpetuo torrens solet acrius ire, 

Sed tanien Jubc brevis est, ilia jperennis aqua. oviD. 

In course impetuous soon the torrent dries ; 
The brook a constant peaceful stream suppUes. 


It is observed by those Avho have written on the 
constitution of the human body, and the original of 
those diseases by which it is afflicted, that every 

NO. 43. RAMBLER. 313 

man comes into the world morbid, that there is no 
temperature so exactly regulated but that some hu- 
mour is fatally predominant, and that we are gen- 
erally impregnated, in our first entrance upon life, 
with the seeds of that malady, which, m time, shall 
brino^ us to the grave. 

This remark has been extended by others to the 
intellectual faculties. Some, that imagine themselves 
to have looked with more than common penetration 
into human nature, have endeavoured to persuade 
us that each man is born with a mind formed pe- 
cuharly for certain purposes, and with desires unal- 
terably determined to particular objects, from which 
the attention camiot be long diverted, and which 
alone, as they are well or ill pursued, must produce 
the praise or blame, the happiness or misery, of his 
future life. 

This position has not, indeed, been hitherto proved 
with strength proportionate to the assurance with 
which it has been advanced, and, perhaps, will never 
gain much j)revalence by a close examination. 

If the doctrine of innate ideas be itself disputable, 
there seems to be little hoj)e of establishing an opin- 
ion, which supposes that even complications of ideas 
have been given us at our birth, and that we are 
made by nature ambitious or covetous, before we 
know the meaning of either power or money. 

Yet as every step in the progression of existence 
changes our position with respect to the things about 
us, so as to lay us open to new assaults and j^articu- 
lar dangers, and subjects us to mconveniences from 
which any other situation is exempt ; as a public or 
a private life, youth and age, wealth and poverty, 
have all some evil closely adherent, which cannot 
wholly be escaped but by quitting the state to which 
it is annexed, and submitting to the incumbrances 

314 RAMBLER. NO. 43. 

of some other condition : so it cannot be denied that 
every difference in the structure of the mind has its 
advantages and its wants ; and that failures and de- 
fects being inseparable from humanity, however the 
powers of understanding be extended or contracted, 
there will on one side or the other always be an 
avenue to error and miscarriage. 

There seem to be some souls suited to great, and 
others to little employments ; some formed to soar 
aloft, and take in wide views, and others to grovel 
on the ground, and confine then* regard to a narrow 
sphere. Of these the one is always in danger of 
becoming useless by a daring negligence, the other 
by a scrupulous solicitude ; the one collects many 
ideas, but confused and indistinct ; the other is 
busied in minute accuracy, but without compass and 
without dignitv. 

The general error of those who possess powerful 
and elevated understandings, is, that they form 
schemes of too great extent, and flatter themselves 
too hastily with success ; they feel their own force 
to be great, and, by the complacency with which 
every man surveys himself, imagine it still greater : 
they, therefore, look out for undertakings worthy of 
their abilities, and engage in them with very little 
precaution ; for they imagine that, without premedi- 
tated measures, they shall be able to find expedients 
in all difficulties. They are naturally apt to con- 
sider all prudential maxims as below their regard, to 
treat with contempt those securities and resources 
which others know themselves obliged to provide, 
and disdain to accomplish their purposes by estab- 
lished means, and common gradations. 

Precipitation thus incited by the pride of intellec- 
tual superiority, is very fatal to great designs. The 
resolution of the combat is seldom equal to the vehe- 

NO. 43. RAMBLER. 315 

mence of the charge. He that meets with an oppo- 
sition which he did not expect, loses his courage. 
The violence of his first onset is succeeded by a last- 
ing and unconquerable languor ; miscarriage makes 
him fearful of giving way to new hopes : and the 
contemplation of an attempt, in which he has fallen 
below his own expectations, is painful and vexatious ; 
he therefore naturally turns his attention to more 
pleasing objects, and habituates his imagination to 
other entertaiments, till, by slow degrees, he quits 
his fii'st pursuit, and suffers some other project to 
take possession of his thoughts, in which the same 
ardour of mmd promises him again certain success, 
and which disappointments of the same kind compel 
him to abandon. 

Thus too much vigour in the beginning of an un- 
dertakmg, often intercepts and prevents the steadi- 
ness and j)erseverance always necessary in the con- 
duct of a complicated scheme, where many interests 
are to be connected, many movements to be adjusted, 
and the joint effort of distinct and independent 
powers to be directed to a single point. In aU im- 
portant events which have been suddenly brought 
to pass, chance has been the agent rather than rea- 
son ; and, therefore, however those, who seemed to 
preside in the transaction, may have been celebrated 
by such as loved or feared them, succeeding times 
have commonly considered them as fortunate rather 
than prudent. Every design in which the connec- 
tion is regularly traced, from the first motion to the 
last, must be formed and executed by cahn intrepid- 
ity, and requires not only courage which danger 
cannot turn aside, but constancy which fatigues can- 
not weary, and contrivance which impediments can- 
not exhaust. 

AU the performances of human art, at which we 
look with praise or wonder, are instances of the re- 

316 RAMBLER. NO. 43. 

sistless force of perseverance : it is by this that the 
quarrj becomes a pyramid, and that distant coun- 
tries are united with canals. If a man was to com- 
pare the effect of a single stroke of the pickaxe, or 
of one impression of the spade, with the general 
design and last result, he would be overwhelmed by 
the sense of their dis^^roportion ; yet those petty 
operations, incessantly continued, in time surmount 
the greatest difficulties, and mountains are levelled, 
and oceans bounded, by the slender force of human 

It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that 
those who have any intention of deviating from the 
beaten roads of life, and acquiring a reputation su- 
perior to names hourly swept away by time among 
the refuse of fame, should add to their reason, and 
their spirit, the power of persisting in their pur- 
poses ; acquire the art of sapping what they cannot 
batter ; and the habit of vanquishing obstinate re- 
sistance by obstinate attacks. 

The student who would build his knowledge on 
solid foundations, and proceed by just degrees to the 
pmnacles of truth, is directed by the great philoso- 
pher of France to begin by doubting of his own 
existence. In like manner, whoever would com- 
plete any arduous and intricate enterprise, should, as 
soon as his imagination can cool afler the first blaze 
of hope, place before his own eyes every possible 
embarrassment that may retard or defeat him. He 
should first question the probability of success, and 
then endeavour to remove the objections that he has 
raised. " It is proper," says old Markham, " to ex- 
ercise your horse on the more inconvenient side of 
the course, that if he should, in the race, be forced 
upon it, he may not be discouraged : " and Horace 
advises his poetical friend to consider every day as 
the last which he shall enjoy, because that will al- 

NO. 43. RAMBLER. 317 

ways give pleasure wliicli we receive beyond our 
hopes. If we alarm ourselves beforehand with more 
difficulties than we really find, we shall be animated 
by unexpected facility with double spirit ; and if we 
fijid our cautions and fears justified by the conse- 
quence, there will, however, happen nothing against 
which pro^dsion has not been made, no sudden shock 
will be received, nor will the main scheme be dis- 

There is, indeed, some danger lest he that too 
scrupulously balances probabilities, and too perspi- 
caciously foresees obstacles, should remain always 
in a state of inaction, without venturing upon at- 
temj)ts on which he may, perhaps, spend his labour 
without advantage. But previous despondence is 
not the fault of those for whom this essay is de- 
signed ; they who require to be warned agamst pre- 
cipitation, will not suffer more fear to intrude into 
their contemplations than is necessary to allay the 
effervescence of an agitated fancy. As Des Cartes 
has kindly shown how a man may prove to himself 
his own existence, if once he can be prevailed upon 
to question it, so the ardent and adventm-ous will 
not be long without findmg some plausible extenua- 
tion of the greatest difficulties. Such, indeed, is the 
uncertainty of all human affairs, that security and 
despair are equal follies, and as it is presumption 
and arrogance to anticipate triumphs, it is weakness 
and cowardice to prognosticate miscarriages. The 
numbers that have been stopped in their career of 
happiness are sufficient to show the uncertainty of 
human foresight ; but there are not wanting con- 
trary instances of such success obtained against all 
appearance, as may warrant the boldest flights of 
genius, if they are supported by unshaken persever- 

318 RAMBLER. NO. 44. 

No. 44. SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 1750. 

'Ovap kK Aibg hari. homek. 

— Dreams descend from Jove. pope. 


" SIR, 

I HAD lately a very remarkable dream, which made 
so strong an impression on me, that I remember it 
every word ; and if you are not better employed, 
you may read the relation of it as follows : — 

" Methought I was in the midst of a very enter- 
taining set of company, and extremely delighted in 
attending to a lively conversation, when on a sudden 
I perceived one of the most shocking figures ima- 
gination can frame, advancing towards me. She 
was dressed in black, her skin was contracted into a 
thousand wrmkles, her eyes deep sunk in her head, 
and her complexion pale and livid as the countenance 
of death. Her looks were filled with terror and un- 
relenting severity, and her hands armed with whips 
and scorpions. As soon as she came near, with a 
horrid frown, and a voice that chilled my very blood, 
she bid me follow her. I obeyed, and she led me 
through rugged paths, beset with briers and thorns, 
into a deep solitary valley. Wherever she passed 
the fadmg verdure withered beneath her steps ; her 
pestilential breath infected the air with maHgnant 
vapours, obscured the lustre of the sun, and involved 
the fair face of heaven in universal gloom. Dismal 

NO. 44. RAMBLER. 319 

howlings resounded througli the forest, from every 
baleful tree tlie night-raven uttered his dreadful 
note, and the prospect was filled with desolation 
and horror. In the midst of this tremendous scene, 
my execrable guide addi-essed me in the following 
manner : — 

' Retire with me, O rash unthinking mortal, from 
the vain allurements of a deceitful world, and learn 
that pleasure was not designed the portion of human 
life. Man was born to mourn and to be wretched ; 
this is the condition of all below the stars, and who- 
ever endeavours to oppose it, acts in contradiction 
to the will of Heaven. Fly, then, from the fatal 
enchantments of youth and social delight, and here 
consecrate the solitary hours to lamentation and woe. 
Misery is the duty of all sublunary beings, and 
every enjoyment is an offence to the Deity, who is 
to be worshipped only by the mortification of every 
sense of pleasure, and the everlasting exercise of 
sighs and tears.' 

" This melancholy picture of life quite sunk my 
spirits, and seemed to annihilate every j)rinciple of 
joy within me. I threw myself beneath a blasted 
yew, where the winds blew cold and dismal round 
my head, and dreadful apprehensions chilled my 
heart. Here I resolved to lie till the hand of death, 
which I impatiently mvoked, should put an end to 
the miseries of a life so deplorably wretched. In 
this sad situation I espied on one hand of me a deep 
muddy river, whose heavy waves rolled on in slow 
sullen murmurs. Here I determined to plunge, and 
was just upon the brink, when I found myself sud- 
denly dra^vn back. I turned about, and was sur- 
prised by the sight of the loveliest object I had ever 
beheld. The most engaging charms of youth and 
beauty appeared in all her form : effulgent glories 

320 RAMBLER. NO. 44. 

sparkled in her eyes, and tlieir awful splendours 
were softened by the gentlest looks of compassion 
and peace. At her approach the frightful sj)ectre, 
who had before tormented me, vanished away, and 
with her all the horrors she had caused. The 
gloomy clouds brightened into cheerful sunshine, the 
groves recovered their verdure, and the whole re- 
gion looked gay and blooming as the garden of Eden. 
I was quite transported at this unexpected change, 
and reviving pleasure began to glad my thoughts, 
when, with a look of inexpressible sweetness, my 
beauteous deliverer thus uttered her divine instruc- 
tions : — 

' My name is Religion. I am the offspring of 
Truth and Love, and the parent of Benevolence, 
Hope, and Joy. That monster, from whose power 
I have freed you, is called Superstition, she is the 
child of Discontent, and her followers are Fear and 
Sorrow. Thus different as we are, she has often 
the insolence to assume my name and character, and 
seduces unhappy mortals to think us the same, till 
she, at length, drives them to the borders of Despair, 
that dreadful abyss into which you were just going 
to sink. 

' Look round and survey the various beauties of 
the globe, which Heaven has destined for the seat 
of the human race, and consider whether a world 
thus exquisitely framed could be meant for the 
abode of misery and pain. For what end has the 
lavish hand of Providence diffused such innumer- 
able objects of delight, but that all might rejoice in 
the privilege of existence, and be filled with grati- 
tude to the beneficent Author of it ? Thus to enjoy 
the blessings He has sent, is virtue and obedience ; 
and to reject them merely as means of pleasure, is 
pitiable ignorance, or absurd perverseness. Infinite 

NO. 44. RAMBLER. 321 

goodness is the source of created existence ; the 
proper tendency of everj rational being, from the 
highest order of raptured seraphs, to the meanest 
rank of men, is to rise incessantly from lower de- 
grees of happiness to higher. They have each fac- 
ulties assigned them for various orders of delights.' 

' What,' cried I, ' is this the language of Rehgion ? 
Does she lead her votaries through flowery paths, 
and bid them pass an unlaborious life ? Where are 
the painful toils of virtue, the mortifications of pen- 
itents, the self-denying exercises of saints and he- 
roes ? ' 

' The true enjoyments of a reasonable being,' an- 
swered she, mildly, ' do not consist in unbounded in- 
dulgence, or luxurious ease, in the tumult of pas- 
sions, the languor of indolence, or the flutter of light 
amusements. Yielding to unmoral pleasure cor- 
rupts the mind, living to animal and trifling ones 
debases it ; both in their degree disqualify it for its 
genuine good, and consign it over to wretchedness. 
Whoever would be really happy must make the 
dihgent and regular exercise of his superior powers 
his chief attention, adoring the perfections of his 
Maker, expressing good-will to his fellow-creatures, 
cultivating inward rectitude. To his lower faculties 
he must allow such gratifications as will, by refresh- 
ing him, invigorate his nobler pursuits. In the re- 
gions inhabited by angelic natures, unmiugied felic- 
ity forever blooms, joy flows there with a jjerpetual 
and abundant stream, nor needs there any mound to 
check its course. Beings conscious of a frame of 
mind originally diseased, as all the human race has 
cause to be, must use the regimen of a stricter self- 
government. Whoever has been guilty of voluntary 
excesses, must patiently submit both to the painful 
workings of nature and needful severities of medi- 

VOL. XVI. 21 


322 RAMBLER. NO. 44. 

cine, in order to his cure. Still, he is entitled to a 
moderate share of whatever alleviating accommoda- 
tions this fair mansion of his merciful Parent af- 
fords, consistent with his recovery. And in propor- 
tion as this recovery advances, the liveliest joy Avill 
spring from his secret sense of an amended and im- 
proving heart. — So far from the horrors of despair 
is the condition even of the guilty. — Shudder, poor 
mortal, at the thought of the gulf into which thou 
wast but now going to i^lunge. 

' While the most faulty have every encourage- 
ment to amend, the more innocent soul will be sup- 
ported with still sweeter consolations under all its 
experience of human infirmities ; supported by the 
gladdening assurances that every sincere endeavour 
to outgrow them, shall be assisted, accepted, and re- 
warded. To such a one the lowliest self-abasement 
is but a deep-laid foundation for the most elevated 
hopes ; since they who faithfully examine and ac- 
knowledge Avhat they are, shall be enabled under 
my conduct to become what they desire. The Chris- 
tian and the hero are inseparable ; and to the aspir- 
ings of unassuming trust, and filial confidence, are 
set no bounds. To him who is animated with a 
\dew of obtaining approbation from the Sovereign 
of the universe, no difficulty is insurmountable. 
Secure in this pursuit of every needful aid, his con- 
flict with the severest pains and trials, is little more 
than the vigorous exercises of a mind in health. 
His patient dependence on that Providence which 
looks through all eternity, his silent resignation, his 
ready accommodation of his thoughts and behaviour 
to its inscrutable ways, is at once the most excellent 
sort of self-denial, and a source of the most exalted 
transports. Society is the true sphere of human 
virtue. In social, active life, difiiculties will perpet- 

NO. 44. RAMBLER. . 323 

ually be met with ; restraints of many kinds will 
be necessary ; and studying to behave right in re- 
spect of these, is a discipline of the human heart, 
useful to others, and improving to itself. Suffering 
is no duty, but where it is necessary to avoid guilt, 
or to do good ; nor pleasure a crime, but where it 
strengthens the influence of bad incHuations, or les- 
sens the generous activity of vii'tue. The happiness 
allotted to man in his present state, is indeed faint 
and low, compared with his immortal prospects, and 
noble capacities ; but yet, whatever portion of it the 
distributing hand of Heaven offers to each individ- 
ual, is a needful support and refreshment for the 
present moment, so far as it may not hmder the at- 
taining of his final destination, 

' Return, then, with me from continual misery to 
moderate enjoyment, and grateful alacrity. Return 
from the contracted views of solitude to the proper 
duties of a relative and dependent being. Religion 
is not confined to cells and closets, nor restrained to 
sullen retirement. These are the gloomy doctrines 
of Superstition, by which she endeavours to break 
those chains of benevolence and social affection, that 
link the welfare of every particular with that of the 
whole. Remember that the greatest honour you 
can pay to the Author of your being is by such a 
cheerful behaviour, as discovers a mind satisfied with 
his dispensations.' 

" Here my preceptress paused, and I was going 
to express my acknowledgment for her discourse, 
when a ring; of beUs from the neio-hbourino- village, 
and a new-risen sun darting his beams through my 
windows, awaked me. 

" I am, yours," &c. 

324 RAMBLER. NO. 45. 

No. 45. TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 1750. 

liTrep ixsyiarrj yiyveTat auTr/pla 

"Orav yvvT] -npog uvdpa fif] diXoaraTy, 

'^vv 6' cK^pa TTcivTa. — EURIP. 

This is the chief fehcity of life, 

That concord smile on the connubial bed ; 

But now 't is hatred all. — 


" SIR, 

" Though, in tlie dissertations which you have 
given us on marriage, very just cautions are laid 
down against the common causes of infelicity, and 
the necessity of having, in that important choice, 
the first regard to virtue, is carefully inculcated ; 
yet I cannot think the subject so much exhausted, 
but that a Httle reflection would present to the mind 
many questions, in the discussion of which great 
numbers are interested, and many precepts which 
deserve to be more particularly and forcibly im- 

" You seem, like most of the writers that have 
gone before you, to have allowed, as an uncontested 
principle, that ' Marriage is generally unhappy : ' 
but I know not whether a man who professes to 
think for himself and concludes from his own ob- 
servations, does not depart from his character when 
he follows the crowd thus implicitly, and receives 
maxims without recalling them to a new examina- 
tion, especially when they comprise so wide a cir- 

NO. 45. RAMBLER. 325 

cuit of life, and include such variety of circum- 
stances. As I have an equal right with others to 
give my opinion of the objects about me, and a bet- 
ter title to determine concerning that state which I 
have tried, than many who talk of it without ex- 
perience, I am unwilling to be restrained by mere 
authority from advancing what, I believe, an ac- 
curate view of the world will confirm, that marriage 
is not commonly unhappy, otherwise than as life is 
unhappy ; and that most of those who complain of 
connubial miseries, have as much satisfaction as 
their nature would have admitted, or their conduct 
procured, in any other condition. 

" It is, indeed, common to hear both sexes repine 
at their change, relate the happiness of their earher 
years, blame the folly and rashness of then* own 
choice, and warn those whom they see coming mto 
the world against the same j)recipitance and in- 
fatuation. But it is to be remembered, that the 
days which they so much wish to call back, are the 
days not only of cehbacy but of youth, the days of 
novelty and improvement, of ardour and of hope, 
of health and vigour of body, of gayety and light- 
ness of heart. It is not easy to surround life with 
any circumstances in which youth will not be de- 
lightful ; and I am afraid that, whether married or 
unmarried, we shall find the vesture of terrestrial 
existence more heavy and cumbrous the longer it is 

"• That they censure themselves for the indiscre- 
tion of their choice, is not a sufficient proof that 
they have chosen ill, since we see the same discon- 
tent at every other part of life which we cannot 
change. Converse with almost any man, grown old 
in a profession, and you will find him regretting that 
he did not enter mto some different course, to which 

326 RAMBLER. NO. 46. 

he too late finds his genius better adapted, or in 
which he discovers that weaUh and honour are more 
easily attained. ' The merchant,' says Horace, ' en- 
vies the soldier, and the soldier recounts the felicity 
of the merchant ; the lawyer, when his clients harass 
him, calls out for the quiet of the countryman ; and 
the countryman, when business, palls him to town, 
proclaims that there is no happiness but amidst 
opulence and crowds.' Every man recounts the in- 
conveniences of his own station, and thinks those of 
any other less, because he has not felt them. Thus 
the married praise the ease and freedom of a single 
state, and the single fly to marriage from the weari- 
ness of solitude. From all our observations, we may 
collect with certainty, that misery is the lot of man, 
but cannot discover in what particular condition it 
will find most alleviations ; or whether all external 
appendages are not, as we use them, the causes either 
of good or ill. 

" Whoever feels great pain, naturally hopes for 
ease from change of posture ; he changes it and 
finds himself equally tormented : and of the same 
kind are the expedients by which we endeavour to 
obviate or elude those uneasinesses, to which mortal- 
ity will always be subject. It is not likely that the 
married state is eminently miserable, since we see 
such numbers, whom the death of their partners has 
set free from it, entering it again. 

" Wives and husbands are, indeed, incessantly 
complaining of each other ; and there would be rea- 
son for imagining that almost every house was in- 
fested with perverseness or oppression beyond hu- 
man sufferance, did we not know upon how small 
occasions some minds burst out into lamentations 
and reproaches, and how naturally every animal 
revenges his pain upon those who happen to be near, 

NO. 45. RAMBLER. 327 

without any nice examination of its cause. We are 
always willing to fancy ourselves within a little of 
happiness, and when, wdth repeated efforts, we can- 
not reach it, persuade ourselves that it is inter- 
cepted by an ill-paired mate, since, if we could find 
any other obstacle, it would be our own fault that 
it was not removed. 

" Anatomists have often remarked, that though 
our diseases are sufficiently numerous and severe, 
yet, when we inquire into the structure of the body, 
the tenderness of some parts, the minuteness of 
others, and the immense multiplicity of animal func- 
tions that must concur to the healthful and vigorous 
exercise of all our powers, there appears reason to 
wonder rather that we are preserved so long, than 
that we perish so soon ; and that our frame subsists 
for a single day, or hour, without disorder, rather 
than that it should be broken or obstructed by vio- 
lence of accidents, or length of time. 

" The same reflection arises in my mind, upon ob- 
servation of the manner in which marriage is fre- 
quently contracted. AVhen I see the avaricious and 
crafty taking companions to their tables, and their 
beds, without any inquiry, but after farms and money ; 
or the giddy and thoughtless uniting themselves for 
hfe to those whom they have only seen by the light 
of tapters at a ball ; when parents make articles for 
their children, without inquiring after their consent ; 
when some marry for heirs to disappoint then- broth- 
ers, and others throw themselves into the arms of 
those whom they do not love, because they found 
themselves rejected where they were more solicitous 
to please ; when some marry because their servants 
cheat them, some because they squander their own 
money, some because their houses are pestered with 
company, some because they will Uve like other 

328 RAMBLER. NO. 45. 

people, and some only because they are sick of them- 
selves ; I am not so much inclined to wonder that 
marriage is sometimes unhappy, as that it appears 
so little loaded with calamity ; and cannot but con- 
clude that society has something in itself eminently 
agreeable to human nature, when I find its pleasures 
so great, that even the ill choice of a companion can 
hardly overbalance them. 

" By the ancient custom of the Muscovites, the 
men and women never saw each other till they were 
joined beyond the power of parting. It may be 
suspected that by this method many unsuitable 
matches were produced, and many tempers associated 
that were not qualified to give pleasure to each 
other. Yet, perhaps, among a people so little deli- 
cate, where the paucity of gratifications, and the 
uniformity of life, gave no opportunity for imagina- 
tion to interpose its objections, there was not much 
danger of capricious dislike, and while they felt 
neither cold nor hunger, they might live quietly 
together, without any thought of the defects of one 

" Amongst us, whom knowledge has made nice, 
and affluence wanton, there are, indeed, more cau- 
tions requisite to secure tranquillity ; and yet, if we 
observe the manner in which those converse, who 
have singled out each other for marriage, w'e shall, 
perhaps, not think that the Russians lost much by 
their restraint. For the whole endeavour of both 
parties, during the time of courtshijD, is to hinder 
themselves from being known, and to disguise their 
natural temper, and real desires, in hypocritical 
imitation, studied compliance, and continued affecta- 
tion. From the time that their love is avowed, 
neither sees the other but in a mask, and the cheat 
is managed often on both sides with so much art, and 

NO. 46. RAMBLER. 329 

discovered afterwards with so mucli abruptness, that 
each has reason to suspect that some transformation 
has happened on the wedding-night, and that, bj a 
strange imposture, one has been courted and another 

" I desire you, therefore, Mr. Rambler, to question 
all who shall hereafter come to you with matrimo- 
nial complaints, concerning their behaviour in the 
time of courtship, and mform them that they are 
neither to wonder nor repine, when a contract be- 
gun with fraud has ended in disappointment. 

" I am," (fee. 

No. 46. SATUEDAY, AUGUST 25, 1750. 

— Genus, etproavos, et quae non fecinms ipsi, 
Vix ea nostra voco. — oyid. met. xiii. 140. 

Nought from my birth or ancestors I claim; 
All is my own, my honour and my shame. 



" SIE, 

" Since I find that you have paid so much regard 
to my complaints as to publish them, I am inclined 
by vanity, or gratitude, to continue our correspond- 
ence ; and indeed, without either of these motives, 
am glad of an opportunity to write, for I am not 
accustomed to keep in any thmg that swells my 

330 RAMBLER. NO. 46. 

heart, and have here none with whom I can freely 
converse. While I am thus employed, some tedious 
hours will slip away, and when I return to watch the 
clock, I shall find that I have disburdened myself 
of part of the day. 

" You perceive that I do not pretend to write with 
much consideration of any thing but my own con- 
venience ; and, not to conceal from you my real 
sentiments, the Httle time which I have spent, 
against my will, in solitary meditation, has not much 
contributed to my veneration for authors. I have 
now sufficient reason to suspect that, with all your 
splendid professions of wisdom, and seeming regard 
for truth, you have very little sincerity ; that you 
either write what you do not think, and willingly 
impose upon mankind, or that you take no care to 
think right, but while you set up yourselves as 
guides, mislead your followers by credulity or negli- 
gence ; that you produce to the public whatever 
notions you can speciously maintain, or elegantly 
express, without inquiring whether they are just; 
and transcribe hereditary falsehoods from old au- 
thors perhaps as ignorant and careless as your- 

" You may perhaps wonder that I express myself 
with so much acrimony on a question in which 
women are supposed to have vary Httle interest ; 
and you are likely enough, for I have seen many 
instances of the sauciness of scholars, to tell me, that 
I am more properly employed in playing with my 
kittens, than in giving myself airs of criticism, and 
censuring the learned. But you are mistaken, if 
you imagine that I am to be intimidated by your 
contempt, or silenced by your reproofs. As I read, 
I have a right to judge ; as I am injured, I have a 
right to complain ; and these privileges^ which I have 

NO. 46. KAMBLER. 331 

purchased at so dear a rate, I shall not easily be 
persuaded to resign. 

" To read has, indeed, never been my business ; 
but as there are hours of leisure in the most active 
hfe, I have passed the superfluities of time, which 
the diversions of the town left upon my hands, in 
turning over a large collection of tragedies and 
romances, where, amongst other sentiments, com- 
mon to all authors of this class, I have found almost 
every page filled with the charms* and happiness of 
a country life ; that life to which every statesmen in 
the highest elevation of his prosperity is contriving 
to retire ; that life to which every tragic heroine, in 
some scene or other, wishes to have been born, and 
which is rejDresented as a certain refuge from foUy, 
from anxiety, from passion, and from guilt. 

" It was impossible to read so many passionate 
exclamations, and soothing descriptions, without feel- 
ing some desire to enjoy the state in which all this 
felicity was to be enjoyed ; and, therefore, I received 
with raptures the invitation of my good aunt, and 
expected that, by some unknown influence, I should 
find all hopes and fears, jealousies and competitions, 
vanish from my heart upon my first arrival at the 
seats of innocence and tranquillity; that I should 
sleep in halcyon bowers, and wander in elysian 
gardens, where I should meet with nothing but the 
softness of benevolence, the candour of simplicity, 
and the cheerfulness of content ; where I should see 
reason exerting her sovereignty over life, without 
any interruption from envy, avarice, or ambition, 
and every day passing in such a manner as the 
severest wisdom should approve. 

'' This, Mr. Rambler, I tell you I expected, and 
this I had by a hundred authors been taught to ex- 

332 RAMBLER. NO. 46. 

pect. Bj tliis expectation I was led hither, and 
here I live in perpetual uneasiness, without any 
other comfort than that of hoping to return to 

Having, since I wrote my former letter, been 
driven, by the mere necessity of escaj^ing from abso- 
lute inactivity, to make myself more acquainted with 
the affairs and inhabitants of this place, I am now 
no longer an absolute stranger to rural conversation 
and employments,' but am far from discovering in 
them more innocence or wisdom, than in the senti- 
ments or conduct of those with whom I have passed 
more cheerful and more fashionable hours. 

" It is common to reproach the tea-table, and the 
park, with giving opportunities and encouragement 
to scandal. I cannot wholly clear them from the 
charge ; but must, however, observe, in favour of the 
modish prattlers, that, if not by principle, we are at 
least by accident, less guilty of defamation than the 
country ladies. For having greater numbers to 
observe and censure, we are commonly content to 
charge them only with their own faults or follies, 
and seldom give way to malevolence, but such as 
arises from some injury or affront, real or imaginary, 
offered to ourselves. But in these distant provinces, 
where the same families inhabit the same houses 
from age to age, they transmit and recount the faults 
of a whole succession. I have been informed how 
every estate in the neighbourhood was originally 
got : and find, if I may crefdit the accounts given me, 
that there is not a single acre in the hands of the 
right owner. I have been told of intrigues between, 
beaux, and toasts that have been now three centuries 
in their quiet graves, and am often entertained with 
traditional scandal on persons of whose names there 

NO. 46. EAMBLEE. 333 

would have been no remembrance, had they not 
committed somewhat that mio;ht disgrace their de- 

" In one of my visits, I happened to commend the 
air and dignity of a yonug hidy, who had just left 
the company ; upon which two grave matrons looked 
with great slyness at each other, and the elder asked 
me whether I had ever seen the picture of Henry 
the Eighth. You may imagme that I did not imme- 
diately perceive the propriety of the question ; but 
after havino- waited a while for information, I was 
told that the lady's grandmother had a great-great- 
grandmother that was an attendant on Anna Bullen, 
and supposed to have been too much a favourite of 
the king. 

" If once there happens a quarrel between the 
principal persons of two famihes, the malignity is 
continued without end, and it is common for old 
maids to fell out about some election, in which their 
grandfathers were competitors ; the heart-burnings 
of the civil war are not yet extinguished ; there are 
two families in the neighbourhood who have de- 
stroyed each other's game from the time of Philip 
and Mary ; and when an account came of an inunda- 
tion, which had injured the plantations of a worthy 
gentleman, one of the hearers remarked, with exulta- 
tion, that he might now have some notion of the 
ravages committed by his ancestors in their retreat 
from Bosworth. 

" Thus malice and hatred descend here with an 
inheritance, and it is necessaiy to be well-versed in 
history, that the various factions of this county may 
be understood. You cannot expect to be on good 
terms with families who are resolved to love nothing 
in common ; and, in selecting your intimates, you 

334 RAMBLER. NO. 46. 

are, perhaps, to consider which party jou must favour 
in the barons' wars. I have often lost the good 
opinion of mj aunt's visitants, by confounding the 
interests of York and Lancaster, and was once cen- 
sured for sitting silent when William Rufus was 
called a tyrant. I have, however, now thrown aside 
all pretences to circumspection, for I find it impos- 
sible in less than seven years to learn all the requisite 
cautions. At London, if you know your company, 
and their parents, you are safe ; but you are here 
suspected of alluding to the slips of great-grand- 
mothers, and of reviving contests which were decided 
in armour by the redoubted knights of ancient times. 
I hope, therefore, that you will not condemn my 
impatience, if I am weary of attending where noth- 
ing can be learned, and of quarrelling, where there 
is nothing to contest, and that you will contribute 
to divert me while I stay here by some facetious 

" I am, Sir, 


NO. 47. RAMBLER. 335 

No. 47. TUESDAY, AUGUST 28, 1750. 

Quanquam Ins sokdiis acquiescam, debiUtor et frangor eadem ilia 
humaniiate quae me, ut hoc ipsum permitte7'e7n, induxit. Non 
ideo tamen velim durior fieri : nee ignoro alios hujusmodi casus 
nihil ampUiis vocare quam damnum ; eoque sibi magnos homines 
et sapientes videri. Qui an vnagni sapieniesoue sint, nescio ; 
homines non sunt. Hominis est enim ajfici dotore, sentire; re- 
sistere tamen, et solatia admittere; non solaiiis non egere. 


These proceedings have afforded me some comfort in my dis- 
tress; notwithstanding which, I am still dispimted, and un- 
hinged by the same motives of hiimanity tliat induced me to 
grant such indulgences. Howevei', I by no means wish to be 
come less susceptible of tenderness. I know these kind of 
misfortunes would be estimated by other persons only as com- 
mon losses, and from such sensations they would conceive 
themselves great and wise men. I shall not determine either 
their greatness or their wisdom; but I am certain they have 
no humanity. It is the part of a man to be affected with 
grief; to feel sorrow, at the same time that he is to resist it, 
and to admit of comfort. earl of orrery. 

Of the passions with which the mind of man is 
agitated, it may be observed that they naturally 
hasten towards their own extinction, by inciting and 
quickening the attainment of their objects. Thus 
fear urges our flight, and desire animates our pro- 
gress ; and if there are some which, perhaps, may 
be indulged till they outgrow the good appropriated 
to their satisfaction, as it is frequently observed of 
avarice and ambition, yet their immediate tendency 
is to some means of happiness really existing, and 
generally within the prospect. The miser always 
imagines that there is a certain sum that will fill 

336 RAMBLER. NO. 47. 

his heart to the brim ; and every ambitious man, 
like king Pyrrhus, has an acquisition in his thoughts 
that is to terminate his labours, after which he shall 
pass the rest of his life in ease or gayety, in repose 
or devotion. 

Sorrow is, perhaps, the only affection of the breast 
that can be excepted from this general remark, and 
it therefore deserves the particular attention of those 
who have assumed the arduous province of preserv- 
ing the balance of the mental constitution. The 
other passions are diseases, indeed, but they neces- 
sarily direct us to their proper cure. A man at 
once feels the pain, and knows the medicine, to 
wdiich he is carried with greater haste as the evil 
which requires it is more excruciating, and cures 
himself by unerring instinct, as the wounded stags 
of Crete are related by ^lian to have recourse to 
vulnerary herbs. But for sorrow there is no remedy 
provided by nature ; it is often occasioned by acci- 
dents irreparable, and dwells upon objects that have 
lost or changed their existence ; it requires what it 
cannot hope, that the laws of the universe should 
be repealed ; that the dead should return, or the 
past should be recalled. 

Sorrow is not that regret for negligence or error 
which may animate us to future care or activity, or 
that repentance of crimes for which, however irrevo- 
cable, our Creator, has promised to accept it as an 
atonement; the pain which arises from these causes 
has very salutary effects, and is every hour extenuat- 
ing itself by the reparation of those miscarriages 
that produce it. Sorrow is properly that state of 
the mind in which our desires are fixed upon the 
past, without looking forward to the future ; an inces- 
sant wish that something were otherwise than it has 
been ; a tormenting and harassing want of some en- 

NO. 47. RAMBLER. 337 

joyment or possession which we have lost, and which 
no endeavours can possibly regain. Into such anguish 
many have sunk upon some sudden diminution of 
their fortune, an unexpected blast of their reputa- 
tion, or the loss of children, or of friends. They 
have suffered all sensibility of pleasure to be de- 
stroyed by a single blow, have given up forever the 
hopes of substituting any other object in the room 
of that which they lament, resigned their lives to 
gloom and despondency, and worn themselves out 
in unavailing misery. 

Yet so much is this passion the natural conse- 
quence of tenderness and endearment, that, however 
painful and however useless, it is justly reproachful 
not to feel it on some occasions ; and so widely and 
constantly has it always prevailed, that the laws of 
some nations, and the customs of others, have limited 
a time for the external appearances of grief caused 
by the dissolution of close alliances, and the breach 
of domestic union. 

It seems determined, by the general suffrage of 
mankind, that sorrow is to a certain point laudable, 
as the offspring of love, or at least pardonable as 
the effect of weakness ; but that it ought not to be 
suffered to increase by indulgence, but must give 
way, after a stated time, to social duties, and the 
common avocations of life. It is at first unavoid- 
able, and therefore must be allowed, whether with 
or without our choice ; it may afterwards be ad- 
mitted as a decent and affectionate testimony of 
-kindness and esteem ; something will be extorted 
by nature, and something may be given to the world. 
But all beyond the bursts of passion, or the forms 
of solemnity, is not only useless, but culpable ; for 
we have no right to sacrifice, to the vain longings 

VOL. XVI. 22 

338 RAMBLER. NO. 47. 

of affection, that time which Providence allows us 
for the task of our station. 

Yet it too often happens that sorrow, thus law- 
fully entering, gains such a firm possession of the 
mind, that it is not afterwards to be ejected ; the 
mournful ideas, first violently impressed, and after- 
wards willingly received, so much engross the atten- 
tion, as to predominate in every thought, to darken 
gayety, and perplex ratiocination. An habitual 
sadness seizes upon the soul, and the faculties are 
chained to a single object, which can never be con- 
templated but with hopeless uneasiness. 

From this state of dejection it is very difiicult to 
rise to cheerfulness and alacrity ; and, therefore, 
many who have laid down rules of intellectual health, 
think preservatives easier tlian remedies, and teach 
us not to trust ourselves with favourite enjoyments, 
not to indulge the luxury of fondness, but to keep 
our minds always suspended in such indifference, 
that we may change the objects about us without 

An exact compliance with this rule might, per- 
haps, contribute to tranquillity, but surely it would 
never produce haj)piness. He that regards none 
so much as to be afraid of losing them, must live for- 
ever without the gentle pleasures of sympathy and 
confidence ; he must feel no melting fondness, no 
warmth of benevolence, nor any of those honest 
joys which nature annexes to the power of pleasing. 
And as no man can justly claim more tenderness 
than he pays, he must forfeit his share in that offi- 
cious and watchful kindness which love only can 
dictate, and those lenient endearments by which love 
only can soften life. He may justly be overlooked 
and neglected by such as have more warmth in their 
heart ; for who would be the friend of him, whom, 

NO. 47. EAMBLER. 339 

with whatever assiduity he may be courted, and 
with whatever services obliged, his principles will 
not suffer to make equal returns, and who, when 
you have exhausted all the instances of good-will, 
can only be prevailed on not to be an enemy ? 

An attempt to preserve life in a state of neutrality 
and indifiference, is unreasonable and vain. If by 
excluding joy we could shut out grief, the scheme 
would deserve very serious attention ; but since, how- 
ever we may debar ourselves from happiness, misery 
will find its way at many inlets, and the assaults of 
pain will force our regard, though we may withhold 
it from the invitations of pleasure, we may surely 
endeavour to raise life above the middle point of 
apathy at one time, since it will necessarily sink 
below it at another. 

But though it cannot be reasonable not to gain 
happiness for fear of losing it, yet it must be con- 
fessed, that in proportion to the pleasure of posses- 
sion, will be for some time our sorrow for the loss ; 
it is therefore the province of the moralist to inquire 
whether such pains may not quickly give way to 
mitigation. Some have thought that the most cer- 
tain way to clear the heart from its embarrassment, 
is to drag it by force into scenes of merriment. 
Others imagme, that such a transition is too violent, 
and recommend rather to soothe it into tranquillity, 
by making it acquainted with miseries more dread- 
ful and afflictive, and diverting to the calamities of 
others the regard which we are inclined to fix too 
closely upon our own misfortunes. 

It may be doubted whether either of those reme- 
dies will be sufficiently powerful. The efficacy of 
mirth it is not always easy to try, and the indulgence 
of melancholy may be suspected to be one of those 
medicines which will destroy, if it happens not to 

340 RAMBLER. NO. 47. 

The safe aud general antidote against sorrow, is 
employment. It is commonly observed, that among 
soldiers and seamen, though there is much kindness, 
there is little grief; they see their friend fall without 
any of that lamentation which is indulged in security 
aud idleness, because they have no leisure to spare 
from the care of themselves ; and whoever shall 
keep his thoughts equally busy, will find himself 
equally unaffected with irretrievable losses. 

Time is observed generally to wear out sorrow, 
and its effects might doubtless be accelerated by 
quickening the succession, and enlarging the variety 
of objects. 

— Si tempore longo 
Lenin 2)0terit lucttis, tu sperne morari, 
Qui sapiet sibi tempus erit. — grotius. 

'Tis long ere time can mitigate your gi'ief; 

To wisdom fly, she quickly brings relief. F. lewis. 

Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul, which every 
new idea contributes in its passage to scour away. 
It is the putrefaction of stagnant life, and is remedied 
by exercise and motion. 

NO. 48. RAMBLER. 341 

No. 48. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 1750. 

Non est vivere, sed valere, vita. 

MART. EPIG. Vi. 70. 15. 

For life is not to live, but to be well. elphlnston. 

Among tlie innumerable follies by which we lay 
up in our youth repentance and remorse for the suc- 
ceeding part of our lives, there is scarce any against 
which warnings are of less efficacy, than the neglect 
of health. When the springs of motion are yet 
elastic, when the heart bounds with vigour, and the 
eye sparkles with spirit, it is with difficulty that we 
are taught to conceive the imbecility that every hour 
is bringing upon us, or to imagine that the nerves 
which are now braced with so much strength, and 
the limbs which play with so much activity, will lose 
all their power under the gripe of time, relax with 
numbness, and totter with debility. 

To the arguments which have been used against 
complaints under the miseries of life, the philoso- 
phers have, I think, forgot to add the incredulity of 
those to whom we recount our sufferings. But if 
the purpose of lamentation be to excite pity, it is 
surely superfluous for age and weakness to tell their 
plaintive stories ; for pity presupposes sympathy, 
and a little attention will show them, that those who 
do not feel pain, seldom think that it is felt ; and a 
short recollection will inform almost every man, that 
he is only repaid the insult which he has given, 
since he may remember how often he has mocked 

342 RAMBLER. NO. 48. 

infirmity, laughed at its cautions, and censured its 

The valetudinarian race have made the care of 
health ridiculous by suffering it to prevail over all 
other considerations, as the miser has brought fru- 
gality into contempt, by permitting the love of money 
not to share, but to engross his mind : they both err 
alike, by confounding the means Avith the end ; they 
grasp at health only to be well, as at money only 
to be rich, and forget that every terrestrial advan- 
tage is chiefly valuable, as it furnishes abihties for 
the exercise of virtue. 

Health is, indeed, so necessary to all the duties, 
as well as pleasures of life, that the crime of squan- 
dering it is equal to the folly ; and he that for a short 
gratification brings weakness and diseases upon him- 
self, and for the pleasure of a few years passed in 
the tumults of diversions and clamours of merriment, 
condemns the maturer and more experienced part of 
his life to the chamber and the couch, may be justly 
reproached, not only as a spendthrift of his own 
happiness, but as a robber of the public ; as a 
wretch that has voluntarily disqualified himself for 
the business of his station, and refused that part 
which Providence assigns him in the general task 
of human nature. 

There are, perhaps, very few conditions more to 
be pitied than that of an active and elevated mind, 
labouring under the weight of a distempered body. 
The time of such a man is always spent in forming 
schemes, which a change of wind hinders him from 
executing ; his powers fume away in projects and in 
hope, and the day of action never arrives. , He lies 
down delighted with the thoughts of to-morrow, 
pleases his ambition with the fame he shall acquire, 
or his benevolence with the . good he shall confer. 

NO. 48. RAMBLER. 343 

But in the niglit the skies are overcast, the temper 
of the air is changed, he wakes in languor, impa- 
tience, and distraction, and has no longer any wish 
but for ease, nor any attention but to misery. It 
may be said that disease generally begins that equal- 
ity which death completes ; the distinctions which 
set one man so much above another are very little 
perceived in the gloom of a sick chamber, where it 
will be vain to expect entertainment from the gay, 
or instruction from the wise ; where all human glory 
is obliterated, the wit is clouded, the reasoner per- 
plexed, and the hero subdued ; where the highest 
and brightest of mortal beings finds nothing left him 
but the consciousness of innocence. 

There is among the fragments of the Greek poets 
a short hymn to Health, in which her power of ex- 
alting the happiness of life, of heightening the gifts 
of fortune, and adding enjoyment to possession, is 
inculcated with so much force and beauty, that no 
one, who has ever languished under, the discomforts 
and infirmities of a lingering disease, can read it 
without feeling the images dance in his heart, and 
adding, from his own experience, new vigour to the 
wish, and, from his own imagination, new colours to 
the picture. The particular occasion of this little 
composition is not known, but it is probable that the 
author had been sick, and in the first raptures of 
returning vigour addressed Health in the following 
manner : — 

'Tyteta TrpeafSLGTa Ma/capwv, 
Mera aov vaiotiii 

To Ti^etTTOfievov (Siordg • 
S?) 6e fioi 7vpo^pC)v avvoiKog elyc. 
Ei yap Tig 7} tzXovtov ^'tipif, f/ tekeuv, 

Tug Evdalfiovog, t' av^punoig 
BaaiTiTjidog apxag, v irodov, 
Ovg Kpv(l>coLg ' k.(ppo6iTrig apKvaiv '&7]p£vo{j,ev. 

344 . RAMBLER. NO. 48. 

"H el rig a21a Td-eo^ev uvd-po)iroig repipig, 

"H TTOvov a/iTTVoa ireipavTaL • 
Merd aslo /laKapia 'Tyieia, 
Te^yls Tzavra, Koi TiUfiTvet ;(;apirwv sap • 

^td-ev 6e X'^P^^^ ovdelg Ivdal/iuv TreXei. 

* Health, most venerable of the powers of Heaven ! 
with thee may the remaining part of my life be passed, 
nor do thou refuse to bless me with thy residence. 
For whatever there is of beauty or of pleasure in 
wealth, in descendants, or in sovereign command, 
the highest summit of human enjoyment, or in those 
objects of desh'e which we endeavour to chase into 
the toils of love ; whatever delight, or whatever 
solace is granted by the celestials to soften our fa- 
tigues ; in thy presence, thou parent of happiness, all 
those jays spread out and flourish ; in thy presence 
blooms the spring of pleasure, and without thee no 
man is hajjpy.' 

Such is the power of health, that without its 
cooperation every other comfort is torpid and life- 
less, as the powers of vegetation without the sun. 
And yet this bliss is commonly thrown away in 
thoughtless negligence, or in foolish experiments on 
our own strength ; we let it perish without remem- 
bering its value, or waste it to show how much we 
have to spare ; it is sometimes given up to the 
management of levity and chance, and sometimes 
sold for the applause of jollity and debauchery. 

Health is equally neglected, and with equal im- 
propriety, by the votaries of business and the fol- 
lowers of pleasure. Some men ruin the fabric of 
their bodies by incessant revels, and others by 
intemperate studies ; some batter it by excess, and 
others sap it by inactivity. To the noisy rout of 
bacchanalian rioters, it will be to little purpose that 

NO. 48. RAMBLER. 345 

advice is oflPered, though it requires no great abili- 
ties to prove, that he loses pleasure who loses 
health ; their clamours are too loud for the whispers 
of caution, and tliej run the course of life with too 
much precipitance to stop at the call of wisdom. 
Nor, perhaps, will they that are busied in adding 
thousands to thousands, pay much regard to him 
that shall direct them to hasten more slowly to their 
wishes. Yet since lovers of money are generally 
cool, deliberate, and thoughtful, they might surely 
consider, that the greater good ought not to be sacri- 
ficed to the less. Health is certainly more valuable 
than money, because it is by health that money is 
procured ; but thousands and million*s are of small 
avail to alleviate the protracted torturers of the gout, 
to repair the broken organs of sense, or resuscitate 
the powers of disgestion. Poverty is, indeed, an 
evil from which we naturally fly ; but let us not run 
from one enemy to another, nor take shelter in the 
arms of sickness. 

— Projecere animam ; quam vellent cBtliere in alto 
Nunc et paujyeriem^ et duros iolerare labores.! 

For healthful indigence in vain they pray, 

In quest of wealth who throw theh lives away. 

Those who lose their health in an irregular and 
impetuous pursuit of literary accomplishments, are 
yet less to be excused ; for they ought to know that 
the body is not forced beyond its strength, but with 
the loss of more vigour than is proportionate to the 
effect produced. Whoever takes up life beforehand, 
by depriving himself of rest and refreshment, must 
not only pay back the hours, but pay them back 
with usury , and for the- gain of a few months but 
half enjoyed, must give up years to the listlessness 
of languor, and the implacability of pain. They 

346 RAMBLER. NO. 49. 

whose endeavour is mental excellence, will learn, 
perhaps, too late, how much it is endangered by 
diseases of the body, and find that knowledge may 
easily be lost in the starts of melancholy, the flights 
of impatience, and the peevishness of decrepitude. 

No. 49. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 1750. 

Non omnis moriar ; muUaque pars mei 

Vitabii Libitinam. Usque egopostera 

Orescam laude recens. — hor. car. iii. 30. 6. 

Whole Horace shall not die ; his songs shall save 

The greatest portion from the greedy grave, creeoh. 

The first motives of human actions are those ap- 
petites which Providence has given to man in com- 
mon with the rest of the inhabitants of the earth. 
Immediately after our birth, thirst and hunger in- 
cline us to the breast, which we draw by instinct 
like other young creatures, and when we are satis- 
fied, we express our uneasiness by importunate and 
incessant cries, till we have obtained a place or 
posture proper for repose. 

The next call that rouses us from a state of inac- 
tivity, is that of our passions : we quickly begin to be 
sensible of hope and fear, love and hatred, desire 
and aversion ; these arising from the power of com- 
parison and reflection, extend their range wider, as 
our reason strengthens, and our knowledge enlarges. 
At first we have no thought of pain, but when we 

NO. 49. KAMBLER. 347 

actually feel it ; we afterwards begin to fear it, yet 
not before it approaches us very nearly ; but by de- 
grees we discover it at a greater distance, and find 
it lurking in remote consequences. Our terror in 
time improves into caution, and we learn to look 
round with vigilance and solicitude, to stop all the 
avenues at which misery can enter, and to perform 
or endure many things in themselves toilsome and 
unpleasing, because we know by reason, or by ex- 
perience, that our labour will be overbalanced by 
the reward ; that it will either procure some positive 
good, or avert some evil greater than itself. 

But as the soul advances to a fuller exercise of 
its powers, the animal appetites, and the passions 
immediately arising from them, are not sufficient to 
find it employment ; the wants of nature are soon 
supplied, the fear of their return is easily precluded, 
and something more is necessary to relieve the long 
intervals of inactivity, and to give those faculties, 
which cannot lie wholly quiescent, some particular 
direction. For this reason, new desires and arti- 
ficial passions are by degrees produced ; and from 
having wishes only in consequence of our wants, we 
begin to feel wants in consequence of our wishes ; 
we persuade ourselves to set a value upon things 
which are of no use, but because we have agreed 
to value them ; things which can neither satisfy 
hunger, nor mitigate pain, nor secure us from any 
real calamity, and which, therefore, we find of no 
esteem among those nations whose artless and bar- 
barous manners keep them always anxious for the 
necessaries of life. 

This is the original of avarice, vanity, ambition, 
and generally of all those desires, which arise from 
the comparison of our condition with that of others. 
He that thinks himself poor, because his neighbour 

348 RAMBLER. NO. 49. 

is richer ; he that, like Caesar, would rather be the 
first man of a village, than the second in the capital 
of the world, has apparently kindled in himself de- 
sires which he never received from nature, and acts 
upon principles established only by the authority of 

Of those adscititious passions, some, as avarice and 
envy, are universally condemned ; some, as friend- 
ship and curiosity, generally praised ; but there are 
others about which the suffrages of the wise are di- 
vided, and of which it is doubted, whether they tend 
most to promote the happiness, or increase the mise- 
ries of mankind. 

Of this ambiguous and disputable kind is the love 
of fame, a desire of filling the minds of others with 
admiration, and of being celebrated by generations 
to come with praises which we shall not hear. This 
ardour has been considered by some, as nothing 
better than splendid madness, as a flame kindled by 
pride, and fanned by folly ; for what, say they, can 
be more remote from wisdom, than to direct all our 
actions by the hope of that which is not to exist till 
we ourselves are in the grave ? To pant after that 
which can never be possessed, and of which the 
value thus wildly put upon it arises from this partic- 
ular condition, that durmg life it is not to be ob- 
tained ? To gain the favour, and hear the applauses 
of our contemporaries, is, indeed, equally desirable 
with any other prerogative of superiority, because 
fame may be of use to smooth the paths of life, to 
terrify opposition, and fortify tranquillity ; but to 
what end shall we be the darlings of mankind, when 
we can no longer receive any benefits from their 
favour ? It is more reasonable to wish for reputa- 
tion, while it may yet be enjoyed, as Anacreon calls 
upon his companions to give him for present use the 

NO. 49. RA31BLER. 349 

wine and garlands which they purpose to bestow 
upon his tomb. 

The advocates for the love of fame allege in its 
vindication, that it is a passion natural and univer- 
sal ; a flame lighted by Heaven, and always burning 
with greatest vigour in the most enlarged and ele- 
vated minds. That the desire of being praised by 
posterity implies a resolution to deserve their praises, 
and that the folly charged upon it, is only a noble 
and disinterested generosity, which is not felt, and, 
therefore, not understood by those who have been 
always accustomed to refer every thing to them- 
selves, and whose selfishness has contracted their 
understandings. That the soul of man, formed for 
eternal life, naturally springs forward beyond the 
limits of corporeal existence, and rejoices to consider 
herself as cooperating with future ages, and as co- 
extended with endless duration. Tiiat the reproach 
urged with so much petulance, the reproach of labour- 
ing for what cannot be enjoyed, is founded on an 
opinion which may, with great probability, be doubt- 
ed; for since we suppose the powers of the soul to 
be enlarged by its separation, why should we con- 
clude that its knowledge of sublunary transactions is 
contracted or extinguished? 

Upon an attentive and impartial review of the 
argument, it will appear that the love of fame is to 
be regulated rather than extinguished; and that 
men should be taught not to be wholly careless about 
their memory, but to endeavour that they may be 
remembered chiefly for their virtues, since no other 
reputation will be able to transmit any pleasure 
beyond the grave. 

It is evident that fame, considered merely as the 
immortality of a name, is not less hkely to be the 
reward of bad actions than of good ; he, therefore, 

350 RAMBLER. XO. 49. 

has no certain principle for the regulation of his 
conduct, whose single aim is not to be forgotten. 
And history will inform us, that this blind and un- 
distinguishing appetite of renown has always been 
uncertain in its effects, and directed, by accident or 
opportunity, indifferently to the benefit or devasta- 
tion of the world. When Themistocles complained 
that the trophies of Miltiades hindered him from 
sleep, he was animated by them to perform the same 
services in the same cause. But Caesar, when he 
wept at the sight of Alexander's picture, having no 
honest opportunities of action, let his ambition break 
out to the ruin of his country. 

If, therefore, the love of fame is so far indulged 
by the mind as to become independent and predom- 
inant, it is dangerous and irregular ; but it may be 
usefully employed as an inferior and secondary mo- 
tive, and will serve sometimes to revive our activity, 
when we beo;in to lano;uish and lose si^ht of that 
more certain, more valuable, and more durable re- 
ward, which ought always to be our first hope and 
our last. But it must be strongly impressed upon 
our minds, that virtue is not to be pursued as one 
of the means to fame, but fame to be accepted as 
the only recompense which mortals can bestow on 
virtue ; to be accepted with complacence, but not 
sought with eagerness. Simply to be remembered 
is no advantage ; it is a privilege which satire as 
well as panegyric can confer, and is not more en- 
joyed by Titus or Constantine, than by Timocreon, 
of Rhodes, of whom we only know from his epitaph, 
' that he had eaten many a meal, drank many a 
flagon, and uttered many a reproach.' 

Ilo/l/la (payiov^ Kai iroTiXu tzIuv, koI TzoiXka KaK.'' elndv 
'AvTdpcoTTOvgj Kelfiai Tifioitpiuv 'Podiog. 

NO. 50. RAMBLER. 351 

The true satisfaction which is to be drawn from 
the consciousness that we shall share the attention 
of future times, must arise from the hope, that, with 
our name, our virtues will be propagated ; and that 
those whom we cannot benefit in our lives, may re- 
ceive instruction from our examples, and incitement 
from our renown. 

No. 50. SATURDAY, SEPTEJ^JDBER 8, 1750. 

Credebant hoc grande nefas^ et Tnorte jnandum, 
SI juvenis veiulo non assurrexerat, atque 
Barbato cuicxinque puer ; licet ipse viaeret 
Plura domi fraga, et majores glandis acervos. 

juv. SAT. xiii. 54. 

And had not men the hoary head revered, 
And boys paid reverence when a man appear'd, 
Both must have died, though richer skins they wore, 
And saw more heaps of acorns in their store. 


I HAVE always thought it the business of those 
who turn their speculations upon the living world, 
to commend their virtues, as well as to expose the 
faults of their contemporaries, and to confute a false 
as well as to support a just accusation ; not only be- 
cause it is peculiarly the business of a monitor to 
keep his own reputation untainted, lest those who 
can once charge him with partiality, should indulge 
themselves afterwards in disbelieving him at pleas- 
ure ; but because he may find real crimes sufficient 
to give full employment to caution or repentance, 

352 RAMBLER. NO. 50. 

without distracting the mind by needless scruples 
and vain solicitudes. 

There are certain fixed and stated reproaches 
that one part of mankind has in all ages thrown 
upon another, which are regularly transmitted 
through continued successions, and which he that 
has once suffered them is certain to use with the 
same undistinguished vehemence, when he has 
changed his station, and gained the prescriptive 
right of inflicting on others what he had formerly 
endured himself. 

To these hereditary imputations, of which no man 
sees the justice, till it becomes his interest to see 
it, very little regard is to be shown : since it does 
not appear that they are produced by ratiocination 
or inquiry, but received implicitly, or caught by a 
kind of instantaneous contagion, and supported 
rather by willingness to credit, than ability to prove 
them. ^ 

It has been always the practice of those who are 
desirous to believe themselves made venerable by 
length of time, to censure the new-comers into life, 
for want of respect to gray hairs and sage experience, 
for heady confidence in their own understandings, 
for hasty conclusions upon partial views, for disre- 
gard of counsels, which their fathers and grandsires 
are ready to afford them, and a rebellious impatience 
of that subordination to which youth is condemned 
by nature, as necessary to its security from evils 
into which it would be otherwise precipitated, by 
the rashness of passion, and the blindness of 

Every old man complains of the growing depravity 
of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the 
rising generation. He recounts the decency and reg- 
ularity of former times, and celebrates the disci- 

NO. 50. RAMBLER. 353 

pline and sobriety of the age in which his youth was 
passed ; a happy age, which is now no more to be 
expected, since confusion has broken in upon the 
world, and thrown down all the boundaries of civil- 
ity and reverence. 

It is not sufficiently considered how much he as- 
sumes who dares to claim the privilege of complain- 
ing ; for as every man has, in his own opinion, a full 
share of the miseries of life, he is inclined to con- 
sider all clamorous uneasiness as a proof of impa- 
tience rather than of affliction, and to ask, what 
merit has this man to show, by which he has ac- 
quired a right to repine at the distributions of nature ? 
Or, why does he imagine that exemptions should be 
granted him from the general conditions of man ? 
We find ourselves excited rather to captiousness 
than pity, and instead of being in haste to soothe 
his complaints by sympathy and tenderness, we in- 
quire, whether the pain be proportionate to the 
lamentation ; and whether, supposing the affliction 
real, it is not the effect of vice and folly, rather than 
calamity ? 

The querulousness and indignation which is ob- 
served so often to disfigure the last scene of life, 
naturally leads us to inquiries like these. For surely 
it will be thought at the first view of things, that if 
age be thus contemned and ridiculed, insulted and 
neglected, the crime must at least be equal on either 
part. They who have had opportunities of estab- 
lishing their authority over minds ductile and unre- 
sisting, they who have been the protectors of 
helplessness and the instructors of ignorance, and 
who yet retain in their own hands the power of wealth 
and the dignity of command, must defeat their in- 
fluence by their own misconduct, and make use. of 
all these advantages with very little skill, if they 

VOL. XVI. 23 

354 RAMBLER. NO. 50. 

cannot secure to themselves an appearance of 
respect, and ward off open mockery and declared 

The general story of mankind will evmce, that 
lawful and settled authority is very seldom resisted 
when it is well employed. Gross corruption, or 
evident imbecility, is necessary to the suppression 
of that reverence with which the majority of man- 
kind look upon their governors, and on those whom 
they see surrounded by splendour and fortified by 
power. For though men are drawn by their pas- 
sions into forgetfuhiess of invisible rewards and 
punishments, yet they are easily kept obedient to 
those who have temporal dominion in their hands, 
till their veneration is dissipated by such wicked- 
ness and folly as can neither be defended nor 

It may, therefore, very reasonably be suspected 
that the old draw upon themselves the greatest part 
of those insults, which they so much lament, and 
that age is rarely despised but when it is contemp- 
tible. If men imagine that excess of debauchery 
can be made reverend by time, that knowledge is 
the consequence of long life, however idly or thought- 
lessly employed, that priority of birth will supply 
the want of steadiness or honesty, can it raise much 
wonder that their hopes are disappointed, and that 
they see their posterity rather willing to trust their 
own eyes in their progress into life, than enlist 
themselves under guides who have lost their way . 
There are, indeed, many truths which time neces- 
sarily and certainly teaches, and which might, by 
those who have learned them from experience, be 
communicated to their successors at a cheaper rate ; 
but dictates, though liberally enough bestowed, are 
generally without effect, the teacher gains few pros- 

NO. 50, KAMBLER. 355 

eljtes by instruction wliich his own behaviour con- 
tradicts ; and young men miss the benefit of counsel, 
because they are not very ready to beheve that 
those who fall below them in practice, can much 
excel them in theory. Thus the progress of knowl- 
edge is retarded, the world is kept long in the same 
state, and every new race is to gain the prudence 
of their predecessors by committing and redressing 
the same miscarriages. 

To secure to the old that influence which they are 
willing to claim, and which might so much contrib- 
ute to the improvement of the arts of life, it is abso- 
lutely necessary that they give themselves up to 
the duties of declining years ; and contentedly re- 
sign to youth its levity, its pleasures, its frolics, and 
its fopperies. It is a hopeless endeavour to unite 
the contrarieties of spring and winter ; it is unjust 
to claim the privileges of age, and retain the play- 
things of childhood. The young always form mag- 
nificent ideas of the wisdom and gravity of men, 
whom they consider as placed at a distance from 
them in the ranks of existence, and naturally look 
on those whom they find trifling with long beards, 
wnth contempt and indignation, like that which 
women feel at the effeminacy of men. If dotards 
will contend with boys in those performances in 
which boys must always excel them ; if they will 
dress crippled limbs in embroidery, endeavour at 
gayety with faltering voices, and darken assemblies 
of pleasure with the ghastliness of disease, they 
may well expect those who find their diversions 
obstructed will hoot them away ; and that, if they 
descend to competition with youth, they must bear 
the insolence of successful rivals. 

356 RAMBLER. NO. 50. 

Jjusisti satis, edisti satis, atque hibisii ; 

Tempm abire tibi est. — HOR. epist. ii. 2. 214. 

You've had your share of mirth, of meat and drmk: 
'T is time to quit the scene — 'tis time to think. 


Another vice of age, by which the rising genera- 
tion may be alienated from it, is severity and cen- 
soriousness, that gives no allowance to the failings 
of early life, that expects artfulness from childhood 
and constancy from youth, that is peremptory in 
every command, and inexorable to every failure. 
There are many who live merely to hinder happi- 
ness, and whose descendants can only tell of long 
life, that it produces suspicion, malignity, peevish- 
ness, and persecution ; and yet even these tyrants 
can talk of the ingratitude of the age, curse their 
heirs for impatience, and wonder that young men 
cannot take pleasure in their father's company. 

He that would pass the latter part of life with 
honour and decency, must, when he is young, con- 
sider that he shall one day be old ; and remember, 
when he is old, that he has once been young. In 
youth he must lay up knowledge for his support, 
when his powers of acting shall forsake him ; and 
in age forbear to animadvert with rigour on faults 
which experience only can correct. 

NO. 51. RAMBLER. 357 

No. 51. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 1750. 

— Stultus labor est ineptiarum. 

AT ART. EPIG. ii. 86. 10. 

How foolish is the toil of trifling cares ! elphtnston. 

" SIR, 

" As you have allo^Yed a place in your paper to 
Euphelia's letters from the country, and appear to 
think no form of human life unworthy of your atten- 
tion, I have resolved, after many struggles with idle- 
ness and diflS.dence, to give you some account of my 
entertainment in this sober season of universal 
retreat, and to describe to you the employments of 
those who look with contempt on the pleasures and 
diversions of polite life, and employ all their powers 
of censure and invective upon the uselessness, vanity, 
and folly, of dress, visits, and conversation. 

" When a tiresome and vexatious journey of four 
days had brought me to the house, where invitation, 
regularly sent for seven years together, had at last 
induced me to pass the summer, I was surprised, 
after the civilities of my first reception, to find, 
instead of the leisure and tranquillity which a rural 
life always promises, and, if well conducted, might 
always afford, a confused wildness of care, and a 
tumultuous hurry of dihgence, by which every face 
was clouded and every motion agitated. The old 
lady, who was my father's relation, was, indeed. 

358 RAMBLER. NO. 61. 

very full of the happiness which she received from 
my visit, and, according to the forms of obsolete 
breeding, insisted that I should recompense the long 
delay of my company with a promise not to leave 
her till winter. But, amidst all her kindness and 
caresses, she very frequently turned her head aside, 
and whispered, with anxious earnestness, some order 
to her daughters,, which never failed to send them 
out with unpolite precipitation. Sometimes her 
impatience would not suffer her to stay behind ; 
she begged my pardon, she must leave me for a mo- 
ment ; she went, and returned and sat down again, 
but was again disturbed by some new care, dismissed 
her daughters with the same trepidation, and fol- 
lowed them with the same countenance of business 
and solicitude. 

" However I was alarmed at this show of eager- 
ness and disturbance, and however my curiosity 
was excited by such busy preparations as naturally 
promised some great event, I was yet too much a 
stranger to gratify myself with inquiries ; but find- 
ing none of the family in mourning, I pleased my- 
self with imagining that I should rather see a wed- 
ding than a funeral. 

" At last we sat down to supper, when I was in- 
formed that one of the young ladies, after whom I 
thought myself obliged to inquire, was -under a ne- 
cessity of attending some affair that could not be 
neglected : soon afterward my relation began to talk 
of the regularity of her family, and the inconveni- 
ence of London hours ; and, at last, let me know that 
they had purposed that night to go to bed sooner 
than was usual, because they were to rise early in 
the morning to cheesecakes. This hint sent me to 
my chamber, to which I was accompanied by all the 
ladies, who begged me to excuse some large sieves 

NO. 51. RAMBLER. 359 

of leaves and flowers that covered two thirds of the 
floor, for they intended to distil them when they 
were dry, and they had no other room that so con- 
veniently received the rising sun. 

" The scent of the plants hindered me from rest, 
and therefore I rose early in the morning with a 
resolution to explore my new habitation. I stole, un- 
perceived, by my busy cousins into the garden, where 
I found nothing either more great or elegant, than 
in the same number of acres cultivated for the 
market. Of the gardener, I soon learned that his 
lady was the greatest manager in that part of the 
country, and that I was come hither at the time in 
which I might learn to make more pickles and con- 
serves, than could be seen at any other house a hun- 
dred miles round. 

" It was not long before her ladyship gave me 
sufficient opportunities of knowing her character, 
for she was too much pleased with her own accom- 
plishments to conceal them, and took occasion, from 
some sweetmeats which she set next day upon the 
table, to discourse for two long hours upon robs and 
jellies ; laid down the best methods of conserving, 
reserving, and preserving all sorts of fruit ; told us 
with great contempt of the London lady in the neigh- 
bourhood, by whom these terras were very often 
confounded ; and hinted how much she should be 
ashamed to set before company, at her own house, 
sweetmeats, of so dark a colour as she had often 
seen at mistress Sprightiy's. 

" It is, indeed, the great business of her life, to 
watch the skillet on the fire, to see it simmer with 
the due degree of heat, and to snatch it off" at the 
moment of projection ; and the employments to 
which she has bred her daughters, are to turn rose- 
leaves in the shade, to pick out the seeds of currants 

360 RAMBLER. NO. 51. 

with a quill, to gather fruit without bruising it, and 
to extract bean-flower water for the skin. Such are 
the tasks with which every day, since I came hither, 
has begun and ended, to which the early hours of 
life are sacrificed, and in which that time is passing 
away which never shall return. 

" But to reason or expostulate are hopeless at- 
tempts. The lady has settled her opinions, and 
maintains the dignity of her own performances with 
all the firmness of stupidity accustomed to be flat- 
tered. Her daughters having never seen any house 
but their own, believe their mother's excellence on 
her own word. Her husband is a mere sportsman, 
who is pleased to see his table well furnished, and 
thinks the day sufficiently successful, in which he 
brings home a leash of hares to be potted by his 

" After a few days I pretended to want books, 
but my lady soon told me that none of her books 
would suit my taste ; for her part, she never loved to 
see young women give their minds to such follies, 
by which they would only learn to use hard words ; 
she bred up her daughters to understand a house, 
and whoever should marry them, if they knew any 
thing of good cookery, would never repent it. 

" There are, however, some things in the culinary 
science too sublime for youthful intellects, mysteries 
into which they must not be initiated till the years 
of serious maturity, and which are referred to the 
day of marriage, as the supreme qualification for 
connubial life. She makes an orange pudding, which 
is the envy of all the neighbourhood, and which she 
has hitherto found means of mixing and baking with 
such secrecy, that the ingredient to which it owes 
its flavour has never been discovered. She, indeed, 
conducts this great affair with all the caution that 

NO. 51. RAMBLER. 361 

human policy can suggest. It is never known be- 
forehand when this pudding will be produced ; she 
takes the ingredients privately into her own closet, 
employs her maids and daughters in different parts 
of the house, orders the oven to be heated for a pie, 
and places the pudding in it with her own hands : 
the mouth of the oven is then stopped, and all in- 
quiries are vain. 

" The composition of the pudding she has, how- 
ever, promised Clarinda, that if she pleases her in 
marriage, she shall be told without reserve. But 
the art of makmg English capers she has not yet 
persuaded herself to discover, but seems resolved 
that secret shall perish with her, as some alchemists 
have obstmately suppressed the art of transmuting 

" I once ventured to lay my fingers on her book 
of receipts, which she left upon the table, having 
intelligence that a vessel of gooseberry wine had 
burst the hoops. But though the importance of 
the event sufficiently engrossed her care, to prevent 
any recollection of the danger to which her secrets 
were exposed, I was not able to make use of the 
golden moments ; for this treasure of hereditary 
knowledge was so well concealed by the manner of 
spelling used by her grandmother, her mother, and 
herself, that I was totally unable to understand it, 
and lost the opportunity of consulting the oracle, for 
want of knowinsc the language in which its answers 
were returned. 

" It is, indeed, necessary, if I have any regard to 
her ladyship's esteem, that I should apply myself to 
some of these economical accomplishments ; for I 
overheard her, two days ago, warning her daughters, 
by my mournful example, against negligence of 
pastry, and ignorance in carving ; ' for you saw,' said 

362 KAMBLER. NO. 51. 

she, ' that, with all her pretensions to knowledge, 
she turned the partridge the wrong way when she 
attempted to cut it, and, I believe, scarcely knows 
the difference between paste raised, and paste in a 

" The reason, Mr. Rambler, why I have laid Lady 
Bustle's character before you, is a desire to be in- 
formed whether, in your opinion, it is worthy of imita- 
tion, and whether I shall throw away the books which 
I have hitherto thought it my duty to read, for The 
Lady's Closet Opened, The Complete Servant-maid, 
and The Court Cook, and resign all curiosity after 
right and wrong, for the art of scalding damascenes 
without bursting them, and preserving the whiteness 
of pickled mushrooms. 

" Lady Bustle has, indeed, by this incessant ap- 
plication to fruits and flowers, contracted her cares 
into a narrow space, and set herself free from many 
perplexities with which other minds are disturbed. 
She has no curiosity after the events of a war, or 
the fate of heroes in distress ; she can hear without 
the least emotion, the ravage of a fire, or devasta- 
tions of a storm ; her neighbours grow rich or poor, 
come into the world or go out of it, without regard, 
while she is pressing the jelly-bag, or airing the 
storeroom ; but I cannot perceive that she is more 
free from disquiets than those whose understand- 
ings take a wider range. Her marigolds, when they 
are almost cured, are often scattered by the wind, 
the rain sometimes falls upon fruit when it ought to 
be gathered dry. While her artificial wines are 
fermenting, her whole life is restlessness and anx- 
iety. Her sweetmeats are not always bright, and 
the maid sometimes forgets the just proportions of 
salt and pepper, when venison is to be baked. Her 
conserves mould, her wines sour, and pickles mother ; 

NO. 52. RAMBLER. 363 

and, like all the rest of mankind, she is every day 
mortified with the defeat of her schemes and the 
disappointment of her hopes. 

" AVith regard to vice and virtue, she seems a 
kind of neutral being. She has no crime but luxury, 
nor any virtue but chastity ; she has no desire to be 
praised but for her cookery ; nor wishes any ill to 
the rest of mankind, but that whenever they aspire 
to a feast, their custards may be wheyish, and their 
pie-crusts tough. 

" I am now very impatient to know whether I am 
to look on these ladies as the great patterns of our 
sex, and to consider conserves and pickles as the 
business of my life ; whether the censures which I 
now suffer be just, and whether the brewers of 
wines, and the distillers of washes, have a right to 
look with insolence on the w^eakness of 

" Cornelia." 

No. 52. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1750. 

— Quoties flenti Theseiiis heros 

Siste modum, dixit ; neque enim fortuna querenda 

Sola tua est ; similes alior'um respice casuSj 

Mitius ista feres. — oviD. met. xv. 492. 

How oft in vain the son of Theseus said, 
The stormy sorrows be with patience laid; 
Nor are thy fortunes to be wept alone ; 
Weigh others' woes, and learn to bear thy own. 


Among the various methods of consolation, to 
which the miseries inseparable from our present 

364: RAMBLER. NO. 52- 

state have given occasion, it has been, as I have 
already remarked, recommended by some writers to 
put the suJBferer in mind of heavier pressures, and 
more excruciating calamities, than those of which 
he has himself reason to complain. 

This has, in all ages, been directed and practised ; 
and, in conformity to this custom, Lipsius, the great 
modern master of the stoic philosophy, has, in his 
celebrated treatise on steadiness of mind, endeav- 
oured to fortify the breast against too much sensi- 
bility of misfortune, by enumerating the evils which 
have in former ages fallen upon the world, the 
devastation of wide-extended regions, the sack of 
cities, and massacre of nations. And the common 
voice of the multitude, uninstructed by precept, and 
unprejudiced by authority, which, in questions that 
relate to the heart of man, is, in my opinion, more 
decisive than the learning of Lipsius, seems to justify 
the efficacy of this procedure ; for one of the first 
comforts which one neighbour administers to an- 
other, is a relation of the like infelicity, combined 
with circumstances of greater bitterness. 

But this medicine of the mind is like many reme- 
dies applied to the body, of which, though we see 
the effects, we are unacquainted with the manner of 
operation, and of which, therefore, some, who are 
unwilling to suppose any thing out of the reach of 
their own sagacity, have been inclined to doubt 
whether they have really those virtues for which 
they are celebrated, and whether their reputation 
is not the mere gift of fancy, prejudice, and cre- 

Consolation, or comfort, are words which, in their 
proper acceptation, signify some alleviation of that 
pain to which it is not in our power to afford the 
proper and adequate remedy ; they imply rather an 

NO. 52. RAMBLER. 365 

augmentation of the power of bearing, than a dimi- 
nution of the burden. A prisoner is reUeved by 
him that sets him at liberty, but receives comfort 
from such as suggest considerations by which he is 
made patient under the inconvenience of confine- 
ment. To that grief which arises from a great loss, 
he only brings the true remedy, who makes his 
friend's condition the same as before ; but he may 
be properly termed a comforter, who, by persua- 
sion, extenuates the pain of poverty, and shows, in 
the style of Hesiod, that half is more than the 

It is, perhaps, not immediately obvious, how it 
can lull the memory of misfortune, or appease the 
throbbings of anguish, to hear that others are more 
miserable ; others, perhaps, unknown or wholly 
indiflferent, whose prosperity raises no envy, and 
whose fall can gratify no resentment. Some topics 
of comfort arising, like that which gave hope and 
spirit to the captive of Sesostris, from the perpetual 
vicissitudes of life, and mutability of human affairs, 
may as properly raise the dejected, as depress the 
proud, and have an immediate tendency to exhil- 
arate and revive. But how can it avail the man 
who languishes in the gloom of sorrow, without pros- 
pect of emerging into the sunshine of cheerfulness, 
to hear that others are sunk yet deeper in the dun- 
geon of misery, shackled with heavier chains, and 
surrounded with darker desperation ? 

The solace arising from this consideration seems, 
indeed, the weakest of all others, and is, perhaps, 
never properly applied, but in cases where there is 
no place for reflections of more speedy and pleasing 
efficacy. But even from such calamities life is by 
no means free ; a thousand ills incurable, a thousand 
losses iiTcparable, a thousand diificulties insurmount- 

366 RAMBLER. NO. 52. 

able, are known, or will be known, by all the sons 
of men. Native deformity cannot be rectified, a 
dead friend cannot return, and the hours of youth 
trifled away in folly, or lost in sickness, cannot be 

Under the oppression of such melancholy, it has 
been found useful to take a survey of the world, to 
contemplate the various scenes of distress in which 
mankind are struggling round us, and acquaint bur- 
selves with the terrihiles visu formcB^ the various 
shapes of misery, which make havoc of terrestrial 
happiness, range all corners almost without restraint, 
trample down our hopes at the hour of harvest, and, 
when we have built our schemes to the top, ruin 
their foundations. 

The first effect of this meditation is, that it fur- 
nishes a new employment for the mind, and engages 
the passions on remoter objects ; as kings have some- 
times freed themselves from a subject too haughty 
to be governed, and too powerful to be crushed, by 
posting him in a distant province, till his popularity 
has subsided, or his pride been repressed. The 
attention is dissipated by variety, and acts more 
weakly upon any single part, as that torrent may be 
drawn off to different channels, which, pouring down 
in one collected body, cannot be resisted. This 
species of comfort is, therefore, unavailing in severe 
paroxysms of corporal pain, when the mind is every 
instant called back to misery, and in the first shock 
of any sudden evil ; but will certainly be of use 
against encroaching melancholy, and a settled habit 
of gloomy thoughts. 

It is further advantageous, as it supplies us with 
opportunities of making comparisons in our own 
favour. We know that very little of the pain, or 
pleasure, which does not begin and end in our 

NO. 52. RAMBLER. 367 

senses, is otherwise than relative ; we are rich or 
poor, great or little, in proportion to the number that 
excel us, or fall beneath us, in any of these respects ; 
and, therefore, a man, whose uneasiness arises from 
reflection or any misfortune that throws him below 
those with whom he was once equal, is comforted by 
finding that he is not yet lowest. 

There is another kind of comparison, less tending 
towards the vice of envy, very well illustrated by an 
old poet, whose system will not afford many reason- 
able motives to content. ' It is,' says he, ' pleasing 
to look from shore upon the tumults of a storm, and 
to, see a ship struggling with the billows ; it is pleas- 
ing, not because the pain of another can give us de- 
light, but because we have a stronger impression 
of the happiness of safety.' Thus, when we look 
abroad, and behold the multitudes that are groaning 
under evils heavier than those which we have ex- 
perienced, we shrink back to our own state, and, 
instead of repining that so much must be felt, learn 
to rejoice that we have not more to feel. 

By this observation of the miseries of others, 
fortitude is strengthened, and the mind brought to a 
more extensive knowledge of her own powers. As 
the heroes of action catch the flame from one an- 
other, so they to whom Providence has allotted the 
harder task of suffering with calmness and dignity, 
may animate themselves by the remembrance of 
those, evils which have been laid on others, perhaps 
naturally as weak as themselves, and bear up with 
vigour and resolution against their own oppressions, 
when they see it possible that more severe afflictions 
may be borne. 

There is still another reason why, to many minds, 
the relation of other men's infelicity may give a 
lasting and continual relief. Some, not well in- 

368 RAMBLER. NO. 53. 

structed in the measures by which Providence dis- 
tributes happiness, are, perhaps, misled by divines, 
who, as Bellarmine, malies temporal prosperity one 
of the characters of the true church, have repre- 
sented wealth and ease as the certain concomitants 
of virtue, and the unfailing result of the divine ap- 
probation. Such sufferers are dejected in their 
misfortunes, not so much for what they feel, as for 
what they dread ; not because they cannot support 
the sorrows, or endure the wants, of their present 
condition, but. because they consider them as only 
the beginnings of more sharp and more lasting 
pains. To these mourners it is an act of the highest 
charity to represent the calamities which not only 
virtue has suffered, but virtue has incurred ; to in- 
form them that one evidence of a future state is the 
uncertainty of any present reward for goodness ; and 
to remind them, from the highest authority, of the 
distresses and penury of men ' of whom the world 
was not worthy.' 

No. 53. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1750. 

^eideo tuv Kredvuv. epigram, vet. 

Husband thy possessions. 

There is scarcely among the evils of human life, 
any so generally dreaded as poverty. Every other 
species of misery, those who are not much accus- 

NO. 53. RAMBLER. 369 

tomed to disturb the present moment with reflection, 
can easily forget, because it is not always forced 
upon their regard ; but it is impossible to pass a day 
or an hour in the confluxes of men, without seeing 
how much indigence is exposed to contumely, 
neglect, and insult; and, in its lowest state, to 
hunger and nakedness ; to injuries against which 
every passion is in arms, and to wants which nature 
cannot sustain. 

Against other evils the heart is often hardened by 
true or by false notions of dignity and reputation : 
thus we see dangers of every kind faced with wil- 
lingness, because bravery, in a good or bad cause, is 
never without its encomiasts and admirers. But in 
the prospect of poverty, there is nothing but gloom 
and melancholy ; the mind and body suffer together ; 
its miseries bring no alleviations ; it is a state in 
which every virtue is obscured, and in which no 
conduct can avoid reproach ; a state in which cheer- 
fulness is insensibility, and dejection sullenness ; of 
which the hardships are without honour, and the 
labours without reward. 

Of these calamities there seems not to be wanting 
a general conviction ; we hear on every side the 
noise of trade, and see the streets thronged with 
numberless multitudes, whose faces are clouded with 
anxiety, and whose steps are hurried by precipita- 
tion, from no other motive than the hope of gain ; 
and the whole world is put in motion, by the desire 
of that wealth, which is chiefly to be valued, as it 
secures us from poverty ; for it is more useful for 
defence than acquisition, and is not so much able to 
procure good as to exclude evil. 

Yet there are always some whose passions or 
follies lead them to a conduct opposite to the general 
maxims and practice of mankind ; some who seem 

VOL. XVI. 24 

370 RAMBLER. NO. 53. 

to rush upon poverty, with the same eagerness with 
which others avoid it ; who see their revenues hourly 
lessened, and the estates which they inherit from 
their ancestors mouldering away, without resolution 
to change their course of life; who persevere 
against all remonstrances, and go forward with 
full career, though they see before them the preci- 
pice of destruction. 

It is not my purpose, in this paper, to expostulate 
with such as ruin their fortunes by expensive 
schemes of buildings and gardens, which they carry 
on with the same vanity that prompted them to 
begin choosing, as it happens in a thousand other 
cases, the remote evil before the lighter, and de- 
ferring the shame of repentance till they incur the 
miseries of distress. Those for whom I intend ray 
present admonitions, are the thoughtless, the negli- 
gent, and the dissolute ; who having by the vicious- 
ness of their own inclinations, or the seducements 
of alluring companions, been engaged in habits of 
expense, and accustomed to move in a certain round 
of pleasures disproportioned to their condition, are 
without power to extricate themselves from the 
enchantments of custom, avoid thought because they 
know it will be painful, and continue from day to 
day, and from month to month, to anticipate their 
revenues, and sink every hour deeper into the gulfs 
of usury and extortion. 

This folly has less claim to pity, because it cannot 
be imputed to the vehemence of sudden passion ; 
nor can the mischief which it produces be extenuated 
as the effect of any single act, which rage, or desire, 
might execute before there could be time for an ap- 
peal to reason. These men are advancing towards 
misery by soft approaches, and destroying them- 
selves, not by the violence of a blow, which, when 

NO. 53. RAMBLER. 371 

once given, can never be recalled, but by a slow 
poison, hourly repeated, and obstinately continued. 

This conduct is so absurd when it is examined by 
the unprejudiced eye of rational judgment, that 
nothing but experience could evince its possibility ; 
yet, absurd as it is, the sudden fall of some families, 
and the sudden rise of others, prove it to be com- 
mon ; and every year sees many wretches reduced 
to contempt and want, by their costly sacrifices to 
pleasure and vanity. 

It is the fate of almost every passion, when it has 
passed the bounds which nature prescribes, to coun- 
teract its own purpose. Too much rage hinders the 
warrior from circumspection, too much eagerness 
of profit hurts the credit of the trader, too much 
ardour takes away from the lover that easiness of 
address, with w^hich ladies are delighted. Thus ex- 
travagance, though dictated by vanity and incited 
by voluptuousness, seldom procures ultimately either 
applause or pleasure. 

If praise be justly estimated by the character of 
those from whom it is received, little satisfaction 
will be given to the spendthrift by the encomiums 
which he purchases. For who are they that ani- 
mate him in his pursuits, but young men, thought- 
less and abandoned like himself, unacquainted with 
all on which the wisdom of nations has impressed 
the stamp of excellence, and devoid alike of knowl- 
edge and of virtue ? By whom is his profusion 
praised, but by wretches who consider him as sub- 
servient to their purposes, su'ens that entice him to 
shipwreck, and cyclops that are gaping to devour 

Every man whose knowledge, or whose virtue, 
can give value to his opinion, looks with scorn, or 
pity, neither of which can afford much gratification 

372 RAMBLER. NO. 53. 

to pride, on him whom the panders of luxury have 
drawn into the circle of their influence, and whom 
he sees parcelled out among the different mmisters 
of folly, and about to be torn to pieces by tailors 
and jockeys, vintners and attorneys, who at once rob 
and ridicule him, and who are secretly triumphmg 
over his weakness, when they present new mcite- 
ments to his appetite, and heighten his desires by 
counterfeited applause. 

Such is the praise that is purchased by prodi- 
gality. Even when it is yet not discovered to be 
false, it is the praise only of those whom it is re- 
proachful to please, and whose sincerity is corrupted 
by their interest: men who live by the riots which 
they encourage, and who know that whenever their 
pupil grows wise, they shall lose their power. Yet 
with such flatteries, if they could last, might the 
cravings of vanity, which is seldom very delicate, 
be satisfied; but the time is always hastening for- 
ward when this triumph, poor as it is, shall vanish, 
and when those who now surround him with obse- 
quiousness and comphments, fawn among his equi- 
page, and animate his riots, shall turn upon him 
with insolence, and reproach him with the vices 
promoted by themselves. 

And as little pretensions has the man, who squan- 
ders his estate, by vain or vicious expenses, to greater 
degrees of pleasure than are obtained by others, io 
make any happiness sincere, it is necessary that we 
beUeve it to be lasting ; since whatever we suppose 
ourselves in danger of losing, must be enjoyed with 
solicitude and uneasiness, and the more value we set 
upon it, the more must the present possession be 
imbittered. How can he, then, be envied for his fe- 
licity, who knows that its continuance cannot be ex- 
pected, and who is conscious that a very short time 

NO. 53. RAMBLER. 373 

will give him up to the gripe of poverty, which will 
be harder to be borne, as he has given way to more 
excesses, wantoned in greater abundance, and in- 
dulged his appetites with more profuseness ? 

It appears evident that frugality is necessary even 
to complete the pleasure of expense ; for it may be 
generally remarked of those who squander what 
they know their fortune not sufficient to allow, that 
in their most jovial expense, there always breaks 
out some proof of discontent and impatience ; they 
either scatter with a kind of wild desperation and 
affected lavishness, as criminals brave the gallows 
when they cannot escape it, or pay their money with 
a peevish anxiety, and endeavour at once to spend 
idly, and to save meanly ; having neither firmness to 
deny their passions, nor courage to gratify them, they 
murmur at their own enjoyments, and poison the 
bowl of pleasure by reflection on the cost. 

Among these men there is often the vociferation 
of merriment, but very seldom the tranquillity of 
cheerfulness ; they inflame their imaginations to a 
kind of momentary jollity, by the help of wine and 
riot, and consider it as the first business of the night 
to stupefy recollection, and lay that reason asleep 
which disturbs their gayety, and calls upon them to 
retreat from ruin. 

But this poor broken satisfaction is of short con- 
tinuance, and must be expiated by a long series of 
misery and regret. In a short time the creditor 
grows impatient, the last acre is sold, the passions 
and appetites still continue theii' tyranny, with in- 
cessant calls for their usual gratifications, and the 
remainder of life passes away in vain repentance or 
impotent desii-e. 

374 RAMBLER. NO. 54. 

No. 54. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22,1750. 

Truditur dies die, 

Novceque lyergunt interire lunm 
Tu secanda mavmora . 

Locas sub ipsumfunus, et sepulchn 
Immenwr struts domos. hok. cak. u. lo. 1&. 

Day presses on the heels of day, 

And moons increase to their decay; 

But you, with thoughtless pride elate, 

Unconscious of impending fate, _ 

Command the pillar' d dome to rise, 

When, lo ! thy tomb forgotten lies. francis. 

" SIR, 

" I HAVE lately been called, from a mingled life 
of business and amusement, to attend the last hours 
of an old friend ; an office which has filled me, if not 
with melancholy, at least with serious reflections, 
and turned my thoughts towards the contemplation 
of those subjects, which, though of the utmost im- 
portance, and of indubitable certainty, are generally 
secluded from our regard, by the jollity of health, 
the hurry of employment, and even by the calmer 
diversions of study and speculation ; or, if they be- 
come accidental topics of conversation and argument, 
yet rarely sink deep into the heart, but give occa- 
sion only to some subtilties of reasoning, or ele- 
o-ances of declamation, which are heard, applauded, 


and forgotten. , 

"It is, indeed, not hard to conceive how a man 
accustomed to extend his views through a long 

NO. 54. 


concatenation of causes and effects, to trace things 
from their origin to their period, and compare means 
with ends, may discover the weakness of human 
schemes ; detect the fallacies by which mortals are 
deluded ; show the insufficiency of w^ealth, honours, 
and power, to real happiness ; and please himself, 
and his auditors, with learned lectures on the vanity 

of life. 

" But though the speculatist may see and show 
the folly of terrestrial hopes, fears, and desires, every 
hour will give proofs that he never felt it. Trace 
him through the day or year, and you will find him 
acting upon principles which he has in common with 
the iUiterate and unenlightened ; angry and pleased 
like the lowest of the vulgar ; pursuing with the 
same ardour, the same designs ; grasping, with all 
the eagerness of transport, those riches which he 
knows °he cannot keep, and. swelling with the ap- 
plause which he has gained by proving that applause 
is of no value. 

" The only conviction that rushes upon the soul, 
and takes away from our appetites and passions the 
power of resistance, is to be found, where I have 
received it, at the bed of a dying friend. To enter 
this school of wisdom is not the pecuhar privilege 
of geometricians ; the most sublime and important 
precepts require no uncommon opportunities, nor 
laborious preparations ; they are enforced without 
the aid of eloquence, and understood without skill 
in analytic science. Every tongue can utter them, 
and every understanding can conceive them. He 
that wishes in earnest to obtain just sentiments con- 
cerning his condition, and would be intimately ac- 
quainted with the world, may find instructions on 
every side. He that desires to enter behind the 
scene, which every art has been employed to deco- 

376 RAMBLER. NO. 54. 

rate, and every passion labours to illuminate, and 
wishes to see life stripped of those ornaments which 
make it glitter on the stage, and exposed in its nat- 
ural meanness, impotence, and nakedness, may find 
all the delusion laid open in the chamber of disease : 
he will there find vanity divested of her robes, power 
deprived of her sceptre, and hypocrisy without her 

" The friend whom I have lost was a man emi- 
nent for genius, and, like others of the same class, 
sufficiently pleased with acceptance and applause. 
Being caressed by those who have preferments and 
riches in their disposal, he considered himself as in 
the direct road of advancement, and had caught the 
flame of ambition by approaches to its object. But 
in the midst of his hopes, his projects, and his gaye- 
ties, he was seized by a lingering disease, which, 
from its first stage, he knew to be incurable. Here 
was an end of all his visions of greatness and happi- 
ness ; from the first hour that his health declined, 
all his former pleasures grew tasteless. His friends 
expected to please him by those accounts of the 
growth of his reputation, which were formerly cer- 
tain of being well received ; but they soon found 
how little he was now affected by compliments, 
and how vainly they attempted, by flattery, to exhil- 
arate the languor of weakness, and relieve the 
solicitude of approaching death. Whoever would 
know how much piety and virtue surpass all external 
goods, might here have seen them weighed against 
each other, where all that gives motion to the active, 
and elevation to the eminent, all that sparkles in the 
eye of hope, and pants in the bosom of suspicion, at 
once became dust in the balance, without weight 
and without regard. Riches, authority, and praise, 
lose all their influence when they are considered 

NO. 54. RAMBLER. 377 

as riches which to-morrow shall be bestowed upon 
another, authority which shall this night expire 
forever, and praise which, however merited, or how- 
ever sincere, shall, after a few moments, be heard 
no more. 

" In those hours of seriousness and wisdom, noth- 
ing appeared to raise his spirits, or gladden his heart, 
but the recollection of acts of goodness ; nor to excite 
his attention, but some opportunity for the exercise 
of the duties of religion. Every thing that termi- 
nated on this side of the grave was received with 
coldness and indifference, and regarded rather in 
consequence of the habit of valuing it, than from 
any opinion that it deserved value ; it had little 
more prevalence over his mind than a bubble that 
was now broken, a dream from which he was 
awake. His whole powers were engrossed by the 
consideration of another state ; and all conversation 
was tedious that had not some tendency to disen- 
gage him from human affairs, and open his prospects 
into futurity. 

" It is now past, we have closed his eyes, and 
heard him breathe the groan of expiration. At the 
sight of his last conflict, I felt a sensation never 
known to me before ; a confusion of passions, an 
awful stillness of sorrow, a gloomy terror without 
a name. The thoughts that entered my soul were 
too strong to be diverted, and too piercing to be 
endured ; but such violence cannot be lasting, the 
storm subsided in a short time ; I wept, retired, and 
grew calm. 

" I have from that time frequently revolved in 
my mind the effects which the observation of death 
produces in those who are not wholly without the 
power and use of reflection ; for, by far the greater 
part, it is wholly unregarded. Their friends and 

378 RAMBLER. NO. 54. 

their enemies sink into the grave without raising 
any uncommon emotion, or reminding them that 
they are themselves on the edge of the precipice, 
and that they must soon plunge into the gulf of 

" It seems to me remarkable that death increases 
our veneration for the good, and extenuates our 
hatred of the bad. Those virtues which once we 
envied, as Horace observes, because they eclipsed 
our own, can now no longer obstruct our reputation, 
and we have, therefore, no interest to suppress their 
praise. That wickedness which we fSared for its 
malignity, is now become impotent; and the man 
whose name filled us with alarm, and rage, and 
indignation, can at last be considered only with pity, 
or contempt. 

" When a friend is carried to the grave, we at 
once find excuses for weakness, and palliations 
of every fault ; we recollect a thousand endear- 
ments which before glided off our minds without 
impression, a thousand favours unrepaid, a thousand 
duties unperformed; and wish, vainly wish for his 
return, not so much that we may receive, as that we 
may bestow happiness, and recompense that kind- 
ness which before we never understood. 

" There is not, perhaps, to a mind well instructed, 
a more painful occurrence, than the death of one 
whom we have injured without reparation. Our 
crime seems now irretrievable, it is indelibly re- 
corded, and the stamp of fate is fixed upon it. We 
consider, with the most aiSictive anguish, the pain 
which we have given, and now cannot alleviate ; and 
the losses which we have caused, and now cannot 

" Of the same kind are the emotions which the 
death of an emulator or competitor produces. Who- 

NO. 54. RAMBLER. 379 

ever had qualities to alarm our jealousy, had excel- 
lence to deserve our fondness ; and to whatever 
ardour of opposition interest may inflame us, no 
man ever outlived an enemy, whom he did not then 
wish to have made a friend. Those who are versed 
in literary history know that the elder Scaliger was 
the redoubted antagonist of Cardan and Erasmus ; 
vet at the death of each of his great rivals he 
relented, and complained that they were snatched 
away from him before their reconciliation was com- 

Tu ne etiam moreris f Ah ! quid me linquis, Erasme, 
Ante mens quam sit conciliatus amor ? 

Art thou too fall'n? — ere anger could subside, • 
And love return, has great Erasmus died ? 

" Such are the sentiments with which we finally 
review the effects of passion, but which we some- 
times delay till we can no longer rectify our errors. 
Let us, therefore, make haste to do what we shall 
certainly at last wish to have done ; let us return 
the caresses of our friends, and endeavour by mu- 
'tual endearments to heighten that tenderness which 
is the balm of life. Let us be quick to repent of 
injuries, while repentance may not be a barren an- 
guish, and let us open our eyes to every rival excel- 
lence, and pay early and willingly those honours 
which justice will compel us to pay at last. 

" Athanatus." 


•RAMBLER. nO. 65. 

No. 55. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 1750. 

Maturo propior desine funeri 
Inter ludere virgines, 

Et stellis nebulam spargere candidis. 
Non si quid Pholoen satis 

Et te, C/dori, decei.— hor. car. iii. 15. 4. 

Now near to death that comes but slow 
Now thou art stepping down below ; ' 
Sport not amongst the blooming maids 
But think on ghosts and empty shades :' 
What suits with Pholoe in her bloom 
Gray Chloris, will not thee become; ' 
A bed is diflferent from a tomb. 






«I HAVE been but a little time conversant in the 
world, yet I have already had frequent opportuni- 
ties of observing the little efficacy of remonstrance 
and complaint, which, however extorted by oppres- 
sion, or supported by reason, are detested by one 
part of the world as rebellion, censured by another 
as peevishness, by some heard with an appearance 
ot compassion, only to betray any of those sallies of 
vehemence and resentment which are apt to break 
out upon encouragement, and by others passed over 
with indifference and neglect, as matters in which 
they have no concern, and which, if they should 
endeavour to examine or regulate, they mio-ht draw 
mischief upon themselves. ° 

;' Yet since it is no less natural for those who 
think themselves injured to complain, than for others 

NO. 55. RAMBLER. 381 

to neglect their complaints, I shall venture to lay 
my case before you, in hopes that you will enforce 
my opinion, if you think it just, or endeavour to 
rectify my sentiments, if I am mistaken. I expect, 
at least, that you will divest yourself of partiality, 
and that, whatever your age or solemnity may be, 
you will not, with the dotard's insolence, pronounce 
me ignorant and foolish, perverse and refractory, 
only because you perceive that I am young. 

" My father dying when I was but ten years old, 
left me, and a brother two years younger than my- 
self, to the care of my mother, a woman of birth and 
education, whose prudence or virtue he had no 
reason to distrust. She felt, for some time, all the 
sorrow which nature calls forth upon the final sep- 
aration of persons dear to one another ; and as her 
grief was exhausted by its own violence, it subsided 
into tenderness for me and my brother, and the 
year of mourning was spent in caresses, consolations, 
and instruction, in celebration of my father's virtues, 
in professions of perpetual regard to his memory, 
and hourly instances of such fondness as gratitude 
will not easily suffer me to forget. 

" But when the term for this mournful felicity 
was expired, and my mother appeared again with- 
out the ensigns of sorrow, the ladies of her acquaint- 
ance began to tell her, upon whatever motives, that 
it was time to live like the rest of the world; a 
powerful argument, which is seldom used to a 
woman without effect. Lady Giddy was incessantly 
relating the occurrences of the town, and Mrs. 
Gravely told her privately, with great tenderness, 
that it began to be publicly observed how much she 
overacted her part, and that most of her acquaint- 
ance suspected her hope of procuring another 
husband to be the true ground of all that appearance 
of tenderness and piety. 

382 RAMBLER. , NO. 55. 

" All the officiousness of kindness and folly was 
busied to change her conduct. She was at one 
time alarmed with censure, and at another fired with 
praise. She was told of balls, where others shone 
only because she was absent ; of new comedies, to 
which all the town was crowding ; and of many in- 
genious ironies, by which domestic diligence was 
made contemptible. 

" It is difficult for virtue to stand alone against 
fear on one side, and pleasure on the other ; espe- 
cially when no actual crime is proposed, and prudence 
itself can suggest many reasons for relaxation and 
indulgence. My mamma was at last persuaded to 
accompany Miss Giddy to a play. She was received 
with a boundless profusion of compliments, and at- 
tended home by a very fine gentleman. Next day, 
she was with less difficulty prevailed on to play at 
Mrs. Gravely's, and came home gay and lively; 
for the distinctions that had been paid her awakened 
her vanity, and good luck had kept her principles 
of frugality from giving her disturbance. She now 
made her second entrance into the world, and her 
friends were sufficiently industrious to prevent any 
return to her former hfe ; every morning brought 
messages of invitation, and every evening was passed 
in places of diversion, from which she for some time 
complained that she had rather be absent. In a 
short time she began to feel the happiness of acting 
without control, of being unaccountable for her 
hours, her expenses, and her company ; and learned, 
by degrees, to drop an expression of contempt, or 
pity, at the mention of ladies whose husbands were 
suspected of restraining their pleasures or their play, 
and confessed that she loved to go and come as she 

" I was still favoured with some incidental pre- 

NO. 55. RAMBLER. 383 

cepts and transient endearments, and was now and 
then fondlj kissed for smiling like my papa ; but 
most part of her morning was spent in comparing 
the opinion of her maid and milliner, contriving 
some variation in her dress, visiting shops, and 
sending compliments; and the rest of the day was 
too short for visits, cards, plays, and concerts. 

" She now began to discover that it was impos- 
sible to educate children properly at home. Parents 
could not have them always in their sight ; the 
society of servants was contagious ; company pro- 
duced boldness and spirit ; emulation excited indus- 
try ; and a large school was naturally the first step 
into the open world. A thousand other reasons she 
alleged, some of little force in themselves, but so 
well seconded by pleasure, vanity, and idleness, 
that they soon overcame all the remaining principles 
of kindness and piety, and both I and my brother 
were dispatched to boarding-schools. 

" How my mamma spent her time when she was 
thus disburdened I am not able to inform you, but 
I have reason to believe that trifles and amusements 
took still faster hold of her heart. At first, she 
visited me at school, and afterwards wrote to me; 
but in a short time both her visits and her letters 
were at an end, and no other notice was taken of 
me than to remit money for my support. 

"• When I came home, at the vacation, I found 
myself coldly received, with an observation, that 
' this girl will presently be a woman.' I was, after 
the usual stay, sent to school again, and overheard 
my mother say, as I was a-going, ' Well, now I 
shall recover.' 

" In six months more I came again, and with the 
usual childish alacrity, was running to my mother's 
embrace, when she stopped me with exclamations at 

384 RAMBLER. NO. 55. 

the suddenness and enormity of my growth, having, 
she said, never seen any body shoot up so much at 
my age. She was sure no other girls spread at that 
rate, and she hated to have children look like women 
before their time. I was disconcerted, and retired 
without hearing any thing more than, 'Nay, if 
you are angry, Madam Steeple, you may walk off.' 

" When once the forms of civihty are violated, 
there remains httle hope of return to kindness or 
decency. My mamma made this appearance of re- 
sentment a reason for continuing her malignity ; and 
poor Miss May-pole, for that was my appellation, 
was never mentioned or spoken to but with some 
expression of anger or dislike. 

" She had yet the pleasure of dressing me like a 
child, and I know not when I should have been 
thought fit to change my habit, had I not been res- 
cued by a maiden sister of my fiither, who could not 
bear to see women in hanging-sleeves, and, there- 
fore, presented me with brocade for a gown, for 
which I should have thought myself under great 
obhgations had she not accompanied her favour with 
some hints that my mamma might now consider her 
age, and give me her ear-rings, which she had 
shown long enough in public places. 

" I now left the school and came to live with my 
mamma, who considered me as an usurper that had 
seized the rights of a woman before they were due, 
and was pushing her down the precipice of age, that 
I might reign without a superior. While I am thus 
beheld with jealousy and suspicion, you will readily 
believe that it is difficult to please. Every word 
and look is an ofience. I never speak, but I pretend 
to some qualities and excellences, which it is crimi- 
nal to possess ; if I am gay, she thinks it early enough 
to coquette ; if I am grave, she hates a prude in 

NO. 55. RAMBLER. 3^5 

hihs ; if I venture into company, I am in haste for a 
husband; if I retire to my chamber, such matron- 
like ladies are lovers of contemplation. I am on 
one pretence or other generally excluded from her 
assemblies, nor am I ever suffered to visit at the 
same place with my mamma. Every one wonders 
why she does not bring Miss more into the world, 
and when she comes home in vapours, I am certain 
that she has heard either of my beauty or my wit, 
and expect nothing for the ensuing week but taunts 
and menaces, contradiction and reproaches. 

" Thus I hve in a state of continual persecution, 
only because I was born ten years too soon, and 
cannot stop the course of nature or of time, but am 
unhappily a woman before my mother can willino-ly 
cease to be a girl. I believe you would contribme 
to the happmess of many famihes, if, by any argu- 
ments or persuasions, you could make mothers 
ashamed of rivaUing their children ; if you could 
show them that, though they may refuse to orow 
wise they must inevitably grow old; and that" the 
proper solaces of age are not music and compli- 
ments, but wisdom and devotion ; that those who are 
so unwilling to quit the world wiU soon be driven 
from it; and that it is therefore their interest to re- 
tire while there yet remain a few hours for nobler 

" I am, &c., 

" Parthenia." 

VOL. XVI. 25 



No. 56. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1750. 

— Valeat res ludicra, si me 
Palma negata macrum, donata reducit qpimum. 

HOR. EPIST. ii. 1. 180. 

Farewell the stage; for humbly I disclaim 

Such fond pursuits of pleasure, or of tame, 

If I must sink in shame, or swell with pride, 

As the gay palm is granted or denied. Francis. 

Nothing is more unpleasing than to find that 
offence has been received when none was intended, 
and that pain has been given to those who were not 
cruilty of any provocation. As the great end ot 
society is mutual beneficence, a good man is always 
uneasy when he finds himself acting in opposition 
to the purposes of life ; because, though his con- 
science may easily acquit him of malice prepense, 
of settled hatred or contrivances of mischief, yet he 
seldom can be certain that he has not failed by 
neo-ligence, or indolence ; that he has not been hin- 
dered from consulting the common interest by too 
much regard to his own ease, or too much inditier- 
ence to the happiness of others. 

Nor is it necessary, that, to feel this uneasiness, 
the mmd should be extended to any great diffusion 
of generosity, or melted by uncommon warmth ot 
benevolence; for that prudence which the world 
teaches, and a quick sensibility of private mterest, 
wiU direct us to shun needless enmities ; since there 
is no man whose kindness we may not some time 

NO. 56. RAMBLER. 337 

want, or by whose malice we may not some time 

I have, therefore, frequently looked with wonder, 
and now and then with pity, at the thoughtlessness 
with which some ahenate from themselves the affec- 
tions of all whom chance, business, or incHnation, 
brings m their way. When we see a man pursumg 
some darling interest, without much regard to the 
opinion of the world, we justly consider him as cor- 
rupt and dangerous, but are not long in discovermg 
his motives ; we see him actuated by passions which 
are hard to be resisted, and deluded by appearances 
which have dazzled stronger eyes. But the greater 
part of those who set mankmd at defiance by hourly 
irritation, and who live but to infuse malignity and 
multiply enemies, have no hopes to foster, no designs 
to promote, nor any expectations of attaining power 
by insolence, or of climbing to greatness by tramp- 
ling on others. They give up all the sweets of kind- 
ness for the sake of peevishness, petulance, or gloom; 
and alienate the world by neglect of the common 
• forms of civility, and breach of the estabhshed laws 
of conversation. 

Every one must, in the walks of hfe, have met 
with men of whom all speak with censure, though 
they are not chargeable with any crime, and wholn 
none can be persuaded to love, though a reason can 
scarcely be assigned why they should be hated ; and 
who, if their good qualities and actions sometimes 
force a commendation, have their panegyric always 
concluded with confessions of disgust : " He is a good 
man, but I cannot like him." Surely, such pei^ons 
have sold the esteem of the world at too low a price, 
since they have lost one of the rewards of virtue, 
without gaining the profits of wickedness. 

This ill economy of fame is sometimes the effect 

388 RAMBLER. NO. 56. 

of Stupidity. Men whose perceptions are languid 
and sluggish, who lament nothing but loss of money, 
and feel nothing but a blow, are often at a difficulty 
to guess why they are encompassed with enemies, 
though they neglect all those arts by which men are 
endeared to one another. They comfort themselves 
that they have lived irreproachably ; that none can 
charge them Avith having endangered his life, or 
duninished his possessions ; and, therefore, conclude, 
that they suffer by some invincible fatahty, or im- 
pute the maUce of their neighbours to ignorance or 
envy. They wrap themselves up in their innocence, 
and enjoy the congratulations of their own hearts, 
without knowing or suspecting that they are every 
day deservedly incurring resentment, by withholding 
from those with whom they converse, that regard, 
or appearance of regard, to which every one is en- 
titled by the customs of the world. 

There are many injuries which almost every man 
feels, though he does not complain, and which, upon 
those whom vktue, elegance, or vanity have made 
delicate and tender, fix deep and lastmg impressions ; 
as there are many arts of graciousness and concilia- 
tion, which are to be practised without expense, and 
by which those may be made our friends, who have 
never received from us any real benefit. Such arts, 
when they include neither guilt nor meanness, it is 
surely reasonable to learn, for who would want that 
love which is so easily to be gained ? And such in- 
juries are to be avoided ; for who would be hated 
without profit ? 

Some, indeed, there are, for whom the excuse of 
ignorance or negligence cannot be alleged, because 
it is apparent that they are not only careless of 
pleasing, but studious to offend ; that they contrive 
to make all approaches to them difficult and vexa- 

NO. 56. 


tious, and imagine that they aggrandize themselves 
by wasting the time of others in useless attendance, 
by mortifying them with slights, and teasmg them 
with affronts. 

Men of this kind are generally to be found among 
those that have not mmgled much in general con- 
versation, but spent their lives amidst the obsequious- 
ness of dependents, and the flattery of parasites ; 
and by long consuking only their own inclination, 
have forgotten that others have a claun to the same 

Tyranny, thus avowed, is indeed an exuberance 
of pride, by which all mankind is so much enraged 
that it is never quietly endured, except in those who 
can reward the patience which they exact ; and in- 
solence is generally surrounded only by such whose 
baseness mclines them to think nothmg msupport- 
able that produces gain, and who can laugh at 
scurrility and rudeness with a luxurious table and 
an open purse. 

But though all wanton provocations and contemp- 
tuous msolence are to be dihgently avoided, there 
is no less danger in timid compliance and tame res- 
ignation. It is common for soft and fearful tempers 
to give themselves up implicitly to the directions of 
the bold, the turbulent, and the overbearing; of 
those whom they do not believe wiser or better than 
themselves ; to recede from the best designs where 
opposition must be encountered, and to fall off from 
virtue for fear of censure. 

Some firmness and resolution is necessary to the 
discharge of duty ; but it is a very imhappy state of 
life in which the necessity of such struggles fre- 
quently occurs ; for no man is defeated without 
some resentment which will be continued with ob- 
stinacy Avhile he beHeves himself in the right, and 

390 RAMBLER. NO. 56. 

exerted with bitterness, if even to his own conviction* 
he is detected in the wrong. 

Even though no regard be had to the external 
consequences of contrariety and dispute, it must be 
painful to a worthy mind to put others in pain, and 
there will be danger lest the kindest nature may be 
vitiated by too long a custom of debate and contest. 

I am afraid that I may be taxed with insensibility 
by many of my correspondents, who believe their 
contributions unjustly neglected. And, indeed, when 
I sit before a pile of papers, of which each is the 
production of laborious study, and the offspring of a 
fond parent, I, who know the passions of an author, 
cannot remember how long they have lain in my 
boxes unregarded, without imagining to myself the 
various changes of sorrow, impatience, and resent- 
ment, which the writers must have felt in this tedious 

These reflections are still more awakened, when, 
upon perusal, I find some of them calling for a place 
in the next paper, a place which they have never yet 
obtained ; others writing in a style of superiority 
and haughtiness, ^s secure of deference, and above 
fear of criticism ; others humbly offering their weak 
assistance with softness and submission, which they 
believe impossible to be resisted ; some introducing 
their comj^ositions w^ith a menace of the contempt 
which he that refuses them will incur ; others apply- 
ing privately to the booksellers for their interest and 
sohcitation ; every one by different ways endeavour- 
ing to secure the bliss of publication. I cannot but 
consider myself as placed in a very mcommodious 
situation, where I am forced to repress confidence, 
which it is pleasing to indulge, to repay civilities 
with appearances of neglect, and so frequently to 
offsnd those by whom I never was offended. 

NO. 56. RAMBLER. 391 

I know well how rarely an author, fired with the 
beauties of his new composition, contains his raptures 
in his own bosom, and how naturally he imparts to 
his friends his expectations of renown ; and as I can 
easily conceive the eagerness with which a new 
paper is snatched up, by one who expects to find it 
filled with his own production, and, perhaps, has 
called his companions to share the pleasure of a 
second perusal, I grieve for the disappointment which 
he is to feel at the fatal inspection. His hopes, 
however, do not yet forsake him ; he is certain of 
giving lustre the next day. The next day comes, 
and again he pants with expectation, and having 
dreamed of laurels and Parnassus, casts his eyes 
upon the barren page with which he is doomed never 
more to be delighted. 

For such cruelty what atonement can be made ? 
For such calamities what alleviation can be found ? 
I am afraid that the mischief already done must be 
without reparation, and all that deserves my care is 
prevention for the future. Let, therefore, the next 
friendly contributor, whoever he be, observe the 
cautions of Swift, and write secretly in his own 
chamber, without communicating his design to his 
nearest friend, for the nearest friend will be pleased 
with an opportunity of laughing. Let him carry it 
to the post himself, and wait in silence for the event. 
If it is published and praised, he may then declare 
himself the author : if it be suppressed, he may 
wonder in private without much vexation ; and if it 
be censured, he may join in the cry, and lament the 
dulness of the writing generation. 

392 EAMBLEK. NO. 57. 

No. 57. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1750. 

Non intellifjunt homines quam magnum vectigal sit parsimonia. 


The world has not yet leai-ned the riches of frugaUty. 

" SIR, 

" I AM always pleased when I see literature made 
useful, and scholars descending from that elevation, 
which, as it raises them above common life, must 
likewise hinder them from beholding the ways of 
men otherwise than in a cloud of bustle and con- 
fusion. Having lived a life of business, and re- 
marked how seldom any occurrences emerge for 
which great qualities are required, I have learned 
the necessity of regarding little things ; and though 
I do not pretend to give laws to the legislators of 
mankind, or to limit the range of those powerful 
minds that carry light and heat through all the 
regions of knowledge, yet I have long thought, that 
the greatest part of those who lose themselves in 
studies, by which I have not found that they grow 
much wiser, might, with more advantage, both to 
the public and themselves, apply their understanding 
to domestic arts, and store their minds Avith axioms of 
humble prudence and private economy. 

" Your late paper on frugality was very elegant 
and pleasing, but, in my opinion, not sufficiently 
adapted to common readers, who pay little regard 

NO. 57. RAMBLER. 393 

to the music of periods, the artifice of connection, or 
the arrangement of the flowers of rhetoric ; but re- 
quire a few plain and cogent instructions; which 
may sink into the mind of their own weight. 

" FrugaUty is so necessary to the happiness of the 
world, so beneficial in its various forms to every rank 
of men, from the highest of human potentates, to 
the lowest labourer or artificer; and the miseries 
whicli the neglect of it produces are so numerous 
and so grievous, that it ought to be recommended 
with every variation of address, and adapted to 
every class of understanding. 

" Whether those who treat morals as a science will 
allow frugality to be numbered among the virtues, 
I have not thought it necessary to inquire. For I, 
who draw my opinions from a careful observation 
of the world, am satisfied with knowing what is 
abundantly sufficient for j)ractice, that if it be not a 
virtue, it is, at least, a quality which can seldom 
exist without some virtues, and without which few 
virtues can exist. Frugality may be termed the 
daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, 
and the parent of Liberty. He that is extravagant 
will quickly become poor, and poverty will enforce 
dependence, and invite corruption ; it will almost 
always produce a passive compliance with the wick- 
edness of others ; and there are few who do not 
learn, by degrees, to practise those crimes which they 
cease to censure. 

" If there are any who do not dread poverty as 
dangerous to virtue, yet mankind seem unanimous 
enough in abhorring it as destructive to happiness ; 
and all to whom want is terrible, upon whatever 
principle, ought to think themselves obliged to learn 
the sage maxims of our parsimonious ancestors, and 
attain the salutary arts of contracting expense ; for 

394 RAMBLER. NO. 57. 

without frugality none can be rich, and with it very 
few would be poor. 

" To most other acts of virtue, or exertions of 
wisdom, a concurrence of many circumstances is 
necessary, some previous knowledge must be at- 
tained, some uncommon gifts of nature possessed, or 
some opportunity produced by an extraordinary 
combination of things; but the mere power of 
saving what is already in our hands, must be easy 
of acquisition to every mind ; and as the example 
of Bacon may show that the highest intellect can- 
not safely neglect it, a thousand instances will every 
day prove, that the meanest may practise it with 

" Riches cannot be within the reach of great num- 
bers, because to be rich is to possess more than is 
commonly placed in a single hand; and if many 
could obtain the sum which now makes a man 
wealthy, the name of wealth must then be trans- 
ferred to still greater accumulations. But I am not 
certain that it is equally impossible to exempt the 
lower classes of mankind from poverty ; because, 
though whatever be the wealth of the community, 
some will always have least, and he that has less 
than any other is comparatively poor ; yet I do not 
see any coactive necessity that many should be with- 
out the indispensable conveniencies of life ; but am 
sometimes inclined to imagine, that, casual calamities 
excepted, there might, by universal prudence, be pro- 
cured an universal exemption from want ; and that 
he who should happen to have least, might, notwith- 
standing, have enough. 

" But without entering too far into speculations 
which I do not remember that any political calculator 
has attempted, and in which the most perspicacious 
reasoner may be easily bewildered, it is evident that 

NO. 67. RAMBLER. 395 

they to whom Providence has allotted no other care 
but of then- own fortune and their own virtue, which 
make far the greater part of mankind, have sufficient 
incitements to personal frugality; since, whatever 
might be its general effect upon provinces or nations, 
by which it is never likely to be tried, we know with 
certainty that there is scarcely any individual enter- 
ing the world, who, by prudent parsimony, may not 
reasonably promise himself a cheerful competence 
in the decline of life. 

" The prospect of penury in age is so gloomy and 
terrifying, that every man who looks before him 
must resolve to avoid it; and it must be avoided 
generally by the science of sparring. For, though 
in every age there are some who, by bold adventures 
or by favourable accidents, rise suddenly to riches, 
yet it is dangerous to indulge hopes of such rare 
events ; and the bulk of mankind must owe their 
affluence to small and gradual proj&ts, below which 
their expense must be resolutely reduced. 

" You must not, therefore, think me sinking below 
the dignity of a practical philosopher, when I recom- 
mend to the consideration of your readers, from the 
statesman to the apprentice, a position replete with 
mercantile wisdom : 'A penny saved is two-pence 
got ; ' which may, I think, be accommodated to all 
conditions, by observing, not only that they who 
pursue any lucrative employment will save time 
when they forbear expense, and that the time may 
be employed to the increase of profit ; but that they 
who are above such minute considerations, will find, 
by every victory over appetite or passion, new 
strength added to the mind, wiU gain the power 
of refusing those solicitations by which the young 
and vivacious are hourly assaulted, and in time 

396 RAMBLER. NO. 57. 

set themselves above the reach of extravagance 
and follj. 

" It may, perhaps, be inquired by those who are 
willing rather to cavil than to learn, what is the just 
measure of frugality ? and when expense, not abso- 
lutely necessaiy, degenerates into profusion ? To 
such questions no general answer can be returned ; 
since the liberty of spending, or necessity of parsi- 
mony, may be varied without end by different cir- 
cumstances. It may, however, be laid down as a 
rule never to be broken, that 'a man's voluntary 
expense should not exceed his revenue ; ' a maxim 
so obvious and incontrovertible, that the civil law 
ranks the prodigal with the madman, and debars 
them equally from the conduct of their own affairs. 
Another precept arising from the former, and, indeed, 
included in it, is yet necessary to be distinctly im- 
pressed upon the warm, the fanciful, and the brave : 
* Let no man anticipate uncertain profits.' Let no 
man presume to spend upon hopes, to trust his own 
abilities for means of deliverance from penury, to 
give a loose to his present desires, and leave the 
reckoning to fortune or to virtue. 

" To these cautions, which, I suppose, are, at least 
among the graver part of mankind, undisputed, I will 
add another : ' Let no man squander against his in- 
clination.' With this precept it may be, perhaps, 
imagined easy to comply ; yet if those whom pro- 
fusion has buried in prisons, or driven into banish- 
ment, were examined, it would be found that very 
few were ruined by their own choice, or i^urchased 
pleasure with the loss of their estates ; but that they 
suffered themselves to be borne away by the violence 
of those with whom they conversed, and yielded 
reluctantly to a thousand prodigalities, either from 
a trivial emulation of wealth and spirit, or a mean 



fear of contempt and ridicule ; an emulation for the 
prize of folly, or the dread of the laugh of fools. 

" I am, Sir, 

" Your humble servant, 


No. 58. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1750. 

— Improbce 
Crescunt divitice. Tamen 
CurtoB nescio quid semper abest rei. 

HOE. CAE. iii. 24. 62. 

But, while in heaps his -wicked wealth ascends, 

He is not of his wish possest ; 
There 's something wanting still to make him blest. 


As the love of money has been, in all ages, one 
of the passions that have given great disturbance to 
the tranquillity of the world, there is no topic more 
copiously treated by the ancient moralists than the 
folly of devoting the heart to the accumulation of 
riches. They who are acquainted with these authors 
need not to be told how riches excite pity, contempt, 
or reproach, whenever they are mentioned ; with 
what numbers of examples the danger of large pos- 
sessions is illustrated ; and how all the powers of 
reason and eloquence have been exhausted in en- 
deavours to eradicate a desire, which seems to have 
intrenched itself too strongly in the mind to be 
driven out, and which, perhaps, had not lost its 


NO. 58. 

power, even over those who declaimed against it, 
but would have broken out in the poet or the sage, 
if it had been excited by opportunity, and invigo- 
rated by the approximation of its proper object. 

Their arguments have been, indeed, so unsuccess- 
ful, that I know not whether it can be shown, that 
by all the wit and reason which this favourite cause 
has called forth, a single convert was ever made ; 
that even one man has refused to be rich, when to 
be rich was in his power, from the conviction of the 
greater happiness of a narrow fortune ; or disbur- 
dened himself of wealth, when he had tried its 
inquietudes, merely to enjoy the peace, and leisure, 
and security of a mean and unenvied state. 

It is^ true, indeed, that many have neglected op- 
portunities of raising themselves to honours and to 
wealth, and rejected the kindest offers of fortune : 
but, however their moderation may be boasted by 
themselves, or admired by such as only view them 
at a distance, it will be, perhaps, seldom found that 
they value riches less, but that they dread labour or 
danger more than others ; they are unable to rouse 
themselves to action, to strain in the race of compe- 
tition, or to stand the shock of contest; but though 
they, therefore, decline the toil of climbing, they 
nevertheless wish themselves aloft, and would will- 
ingly enjoy what they dare not seize. 

Others have retired from high stations, and volun- 
tarily condemned themselves to privacy and obscur- 
ity. But, even these will not afford many occasions 
of triumph to the philosopher ; for they have com- 
monly either quitted that only which they thought 
themselves unable to hold, and prevented disgrace 
by resignation ; or they have been induced or try 
new measures by general inconstancy, which always 
dreams of happiness in novelty, or by a gloomy dis- 

NO. 58. RAMBLER. 399 

position, whicli is disgusted in the same degree with 
every state, and wishes every scene of hfe to 
change as soon as it is beheld. Such men found 
high and low stations equally unable to satisfy the 
wishes of a distempered mind, and were unable to 
shelter themselves in the closest retreat from disap- 
pointment, solicitude, and misery. 

Yet though these admonitions have been thus 
neglected by those, who either enjoyed riches, or 
were able to procure them, it is not rashly to be 
determined that they are altogether without use ; for 
since far the greatest part of mankind must be con- 
fined to conditions comparatively mean, and placed 
in situations, from which they naturally look up with 
envy to the eminences before them, those writers 
cannot be thought ill employed that have admin- 
istered remedies to discontent almost universal, by 
showing, that what we cannot reach may very well 
be forborne, that the inequality of distribution, at 
which we murmur, is for the most part less than it 
seems, and that the greatness, which we admire 
at a distance, has much fewer advantages, and 
much less splendour, when we are suffered to ap- 
proach it. 

It is the business of moralists to detect the frauds 
of fortune, and to show that she imposes upon the 
careless eye, by a quick succession of shadows, which 
will shrink to nothing in the gripe ; that she dis- 
guises life in extrinsic ornaments, which serve only 
for show, and are laid aside in the hours of solitude 
and of pleasure ; and that, when greatness aspires 
either to felicity or to wisdom, it shakes off those 
distinctions which dazzle the gazer and awe the 

It may be remarked, that they whose condition 
has not afforded them the light of moral and relig- 

400 RAMBLER. NO. 58. 

ious instruction, and who collect all their ideas by 
their own eyes, and digest them by their own under- 
standings, seem to consider those who are placed in 
ranks of remote superiority, as almost another and 
higher species of beings. As themselves have 
known little other misery than the consequences of 
want, they are with difficulty persuaded that where 
there is wealth there can be sorrow, or that those 
who glitter in dignity, and glide along in affluence, 
can be acquainted with pains and cares like those 
which lie heavy upon the rest of mankind. 

This prejudice is, indeed, confined to the lowest 
meanness and the darkest ignorance ; but it is so 
confined only because others have been shown its 
folly and its falsehood, because it has been opposed 
in its progress by history and philosophy, and hin- 
dered from spreading its infection by powerful pre- 

The doctrine of the contempt of wealth, though it 
has not been able to extinguish avarice or ambition, 
or suppress that reluctance with which a man passes 
his days in a state of inferiority, must, at least, have 
made the lower conditions less grating and weari- 
some, and has consequently contributed to the gen- 
eral security of life, by hindering that fraud and 
violence, rapine and circumvention, which must have 
been produced by an unbounded eagerness of wealth, 
arising from an unshaken conviction, that to be rich 
is to be happy. 

Whoever finds himself incited, by some violent 
impulse of passion, to pursue riches as the chief end 
of being, must surely be so much alarmed by the 
successive admonitions of those, whose experience 
and sagacity have recommended them as the guides 
of mankind, as to stop and consider whether he is 
about to engage in an undertaking that will reward 

NO. 58. RAMBLER. 401 

his toil, and to examine, before lie rushes to wealth, 
through right and wrong, what it will confer when 
he has acquired it ; and this examination will seldom 
fail to repress his ardour and retard his violence. 

Wealth is nothing in itself, it is not useful but 
when it departs from us ; its value is found only in 
that which it can purchase, which, if we suppose it 
put to its best use by those that possess it, seems not 
much to deserve the desire or envy of a wise man. 
It is certain, that, with regard to corporal enjoy- 
ment, money can neither open new avenues to pleas- 
ure, nor block up the passages of anguish. Disease 
and infirmity still continue to torture and enfeeble, 
perhaps exasperated by luxury, or promoted by 
softness. With respect to the mind, it has rarely 
been observed that wealth contributes much to 
quicken the discernment, enlarge the capacity, or 
elevate the imagination ; but may, by hiring flattery, 
or laying diligence asleep, confirm error and harden 

Wealth cannot confer greatness, for nothing can 
make that great which the decree of nature has 
ordained to be little. The bramble may be placed 
in a hotbed, but can never become an oak. Even 
royalty itself is not able to give that dignity which 
it happens not to find, but oppresses feeble minds, 
though it may elevate the strong. The world has 
been governed in the name of kings, whose existence 
has scarcely been perceived by any real effects be- 
yond their own palaces. 

When, therefore, the desire of wealth is taking 
hold of the heart, let us look round and see how it 
operates upon those whose industry or fortune has 
obtained it. When we find them oppressed with 
their own abundance, luxurious without pleasure, 
idle without ease, impatient and querulous in them- 

VOL. XVI. 26 

402 RAMBLER. NO. 59. 

selves, and despised or hated by the rest of mankind, 
we shall soon be convinced, that if the real wants of 
our condition are satisfied, there remains little to be 
sought with solicitude, or desired with eagerness. 

No. 59. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 1750. 

Est aliquid fatdle malum per verba levari, 
Hoc querulam Halcyonenque Prognen fadt : 

Hoc erat, in gelido quare Pceanilus antro 
Vox fatigaret Lemnia saxa sua. 

Strangulat inclusus dolor^ atque excestuat iniiis^ 
Cogitur et vires multiplicare suas. 

OVID, TRIST. T. 69. 

Complaining oft, gives respite to our grief; 
From hence tlie wretched Progne sought relief, 
Hence the P^eantian chief his fate deplores, 
And vents his sorrow to the Lemnian shores: 
In vain by secrecy we would assuage 
Our cares; conceal'd they gather tenfold rage. 


It is common to distinguish men by the names of 
animals which they are supposed to resemble. Thus 
a hero is frequently termed a lion, and a statesman 
a fox, an extortioner gains the appellation of vulture, 
and a fop the title of monkey. There is also among 
the various anomalies of character, which a survey 
of the world exhibits, a species of beings in human 
form, which may be properly marked out as the 
screech-owls of mankind. 

These screech-owls seem to be settled in an 
opiuion, that the great business of life is to com- 

NO. 59. RAMBLER. 403 

plain, and that they were born for no other purpose 
than to disturb the happiness of others, to lessen the 
little comforts and shorten the short pleasures of our 
condition, by painful remembrances of the past, or 
melancholy prognostics of the future ; their only 
care is to crush the rising hope, to damp the kindling 
transport, and allay the golden hours of gayety with 
the hateful dross of grief and suspicion. | 

To those, whose weakness of spirits, or timidity 
of temper, subjects them to impressions from others, 
and who are apt to suffer by fascination, and catch 
the contagion of misery, it is extremely unhappy to 
live within the compass of a screech-owl's voice ; for 
it will often fill their ears in the hour of dejection, 
terrify them with apprehensions, which their own 
thoughts would i^ver have produced, and sadden, 
by intruded sorrows, the day which might have been 
passed in amusements or in business ; it will burden 
the heart with unnecessary discontents, and w^eaken, 
for a time, that love of life which is necessary to the 
vigorous prosecution of any undertaking. 

Though I have, like the rest of mankind, many 
failings and weaknesses, I have not yet, by either 
friends or enemies, been charged with superstition ; 
I never count the company which I enter, and I 
look at the new moon indifferently over either 
shoulder. I have, like most other philosophers, 
often heard the cuckoo without money in my pocket, 
and have been sometimes reproached as foolhardy 
for not turning down my eyes when a raven flew 
over my head. I never go home abruptly, because 
a snake crosses my way, nor have any particular 
dread of a climacterical year ; yet I confess, that, 
with all my scorn of old women, and their tales, 
I consider it as an unhappy day when I happen 
to be greeted in the morning by Suspirius, the 

404 RAMBLER. NO. 59. 

I have now known Suspirius fiftj-eight, years and 
four months, and have never yet passed an hour 
with him in which he has not made some attack 
upon my quiet. When we were first acquainted, 
his great topic was the misery of youth without 
riches, and whenever we walked out together, he 
solaced me with a long enumeration of pleasures, 
which, a| they were beyond the reach of my fortune, 
were without the verge of my desires, and which I 
should never have considered as the objects of a 
wish, had not his unseasonable representations j)laced 
them in my sight. 

Another of his topics is, the neglect of merit, with 
which he never fails to amuse every man whom he 
sees not eminently fortunate. If he meets with a 
young officer, he always informs lym of gentlemen 
whose personal courage is unquestioned, and whose 
military skill qualifies them to command armies, 
that have, notwithstanding all their merit, grown 
old with subaltern commissions. For a genius in 
the church, he is always provided with a curacy for 
life. The lawyer' he informs of many men of great 
parts and deep study, who have never had an op- 
portunity to speak in the courts : and meeting Sere- 
nus, the physician : ' Ah doctor,' says he, ' what, a- 
foot still, when so many blockheads are rattling in 
their chariots ? I told you seven years ago that you 
would never meet with encouragement, and I hope 
you will now take more notice, when I tell you, that 
your Greek, and your diligence, and your honesty, 
will never enable you to live like yonder apothecary, 
who prescribes to his own shop, and laughs at the 

Suspirius has, in his time, intercepted fifteen 
authors in their way to the stage ; persuaded nine- 
and-thirty merchants to retire from a prosperous 

NO. 59. RAMBLER. 405 

trade for fear of bankruptcy, broke off a hundred 
and thirteen matches by prognostications of un- 
happiness, and enabled the smallpox to kill nine- 
teen ladies, by perpetual alarms of the loss of 

Whenever my evil stars bring us together, he 
never fails to represent to me the folly of my pur- 
suits, and informs me that we are much older than 
when we began our acquaintance, that the mfirmi- 
ties of decrepitude are coming fast upon me, that 
whatever I now get I shall enjoy but a little time, 
that fame is to a man tottering on the edge' of 
the grave of very little importance, and that the 
time is at hand when I ought to look for no other 
pleasures than a good dinner and an easy-chair. 

^ Thus he goes on in his unharmonious strain, 
displaying present miseries, and foreboding more 
vvtiTLKopa^ uei T^avaT7}(p6pog, every syllable is loaded with 
misfortune, and death is always brought nearer to 
the view. Yet, what always raises my resentment 
and indignation, I do not perceive that his mournful 
meditations have much effect upon himself He 
talks, and has long talked of calamities, without dis- 
covering, otherwise than by the tone of his voice, 
that he feels any of the evils which he bewails or 
threatens, but has the same habit of uttering lamen- 
tations, as others of telling stories, and falls into ex- 
pressions of condolence for past, or apprehension of 
future mischiefs, as all men, studious of their ease, 
have recourse to those subjects upon which they can 
most fluently or copiously discourse. 

It is reported of the Sybarites, that they destroyed 
all their cocks, that they might dream out their morn- 
ing dreams without disturbance. Though I would 
not so far promote effeminacy as to propose the Sy- 
barites for an example, yet since there is no man so 

406 RAMBLER. NO. 59. 

corrupt or foolish, but something useful may be 
learned from him, I could wish that, in imitation of 
a people not often to be copied, some regulations 
might be made to exclude screech-owls from all 
•company, as the enemies of mankmd, and confine 
them to some proper receptacle, where they may 
mingle sighs at leisui-e, and thicken the gloom of one 

Thou prophet of evil, says Homer's Agamemnon, 
thou never foretellest me good, but the joy of thy 
heart is to predict misfortunes. Whoever is of the 
same temper might there find the means of indulging 
his thoughts, and improving his vein of denunciation, 
and the flock of screech-owls might hoot together 
without injury to the rest of the world. 

Yet, though I have so little kindness for this dark 
generation, I am very far from intendmg to debar 
the soft and tender mind from the j)rivilege of com- 
plaining, when the sigh rises from the desire not of 
giving pain, but of gaining ease. To hear complaints 
with patience, even when complaints are vain, is one 
of the duties of friendship) ; and though it must be 
allowed that he suffers most like a hero that hides 
his grief in silence, 

Spem vultu simulate premit alium corde dolorem. 

VIEG. ^EN. i. 209. 

His outward smiles conceal' d his inward smart. 


yet, it cannot be denied that he who complains acts 
like a man, like a social being, who looks for help 
from his fellow-creatures. Pity is to many of the 
unhappy a source of comfort in hopeless distresses, 
as it contributes to recommend them to themselves, 
by proving that they have not lost the regard of 

NO. 60. RAMBLER. 407 

Others ; and Heaven seems to indicate the duty even 
of barren compassion, by inclining us to weep for 
evils which we cannot remedy. 

No. 60. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1750. 

— Quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile^ quid non, 
PUniiis ac melius Chrysippo et Crantore dicit. 

HOE. EPIST. i. 2. 3. 

Whose works the beautiful and base contain, 

Of vice and virtue more instructive niles, 

Than all the sober sages of the schools. francis. 

All joy or sorrow for the happiness or calamities 
of others is produced by an act of the imagination, 
that realizes the event however fictitious, or approxi- 
mates it however remote, by placing us, for a time, 
in the condition of him whose fortune we contem- 
plate ; so that we feel, while the deception lasts, 
whatever motions would be excited by the same good 
or evil happening to ourselves. 

Our passions are, therefore, more strongly moved, 
in proportion as we can more readily adopt the pains 
or pleasure proposed to our minds, by recognizing 
them as once our own, or considering them as nat- 
urally incident to our state of life. It is not easy 
for the most artful writer to give us an interest in 
happiness or misery, which we thmk ourselves never 
likely to feel, and with which we have never yet 
been made acquainted. Histories of the downfall of 
kingdoms, and revolutions of empires, are read with 

408 • RAMBLER. NO. 60. 

great tranqnilllty ; the imperial tragedy pleases com- 
mon auditors only by its pomjD of ornament and gran- 
deur of ideas ; and the man whose faculties have been 
engrossed by business, and whose heart never flut- 
tered but at the rise or fall of the stocks, wonders 
how the -attention can be seized, or the affection 
agitated, by a tale of love. 

Those parallel circumstances, and kindred images, 
to which we readily conform our minds, are, above 
all other writings, to be found in narratives of the 
lives of particular persons ; and, therefore, no sj)ecies 
of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than 
biography, since none can be more delightful or 
more useful, none can more certainly enchain the 
heart by, irresistible interest, or more widely diffuse 
instruction to every diversity of condition. 

The general and rapid narratives of history, which 
involve a thousand fortunes in the business of a day, 
and compUcate innumerable incidents in one great 
transaction, afford few lessons applicable to private 
life, which derives its comforts and its wretchedness 
from the ri<]i;lit or wronor manaofement of things, 
which nothing but their frequency makes consider- 
able, Parva si non Jiunt quotidie, says Pliny, and 
which can have no place in those relations which 
never descend below the consultations of senates, 
the motions of armies, and the schemes of con- 

I have often thought that there has rarely passed 
a life of which a judicious and faithful narrative 
would not be useful. For, not only every man has, 
in the mighty mass of the world, great numbers in 
the same condition with himself, to whom his mis- 
takes and miscarriages, escapes and expedients, 
would be of immediate and apparent use ; but 
there is such an uniformity in the state of man. 

NO. 60. RAMBLER. 409 

considered apart from adventitious and separable 
decorations and disguises, that there is scarce any 
possibility of good Qr ill, but is common to human 
kind. A great part of the time of those who are 
placed at the greatest distance by fortune, or by 
temper, must miavoidably pass in the same manner ; 
and though, when the claims of nature are satisfied, 
caprice, and vanity, and accident, begin to produce 
discrmiinations and peculiarities, yet the eye is not 
very heedful or quick, which cannot discover the 
same causes still terminating their influence in the 
same effects, though sometimes accelerated, some- 
times retarded, or perplexed by multiplied combina- 
tions. We are all prompted by the same motives, 
all deceived by the same fallacies, all animated by 
hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire, and 
seduced by pleasure. 

It is frequently objected to relations of particular 
lives, that they are not distmguished by any striking 
or wonderful vicissitudes. The scholar who passed 
his life among his books, the merchant who con- 
ducted only his own affairs, the priest w^hose sphere 
of action was not extended beyond that of his duty, 
are considered as no proper objects of public regard, 
however they might have excelled in their several 
stations, whatever might have been their learning, 
integrity, and piety. But this notion arises from 
false measures of excellence and dignity, and must 
be eradicated by considering that, in the esteem of 
uncorrupted reason, wdiat is of most use is of most 

It is, indeed, not improper to take honest advan- 
tages of prejudice, and to gain attention by a cele- 
brated name ; but the business of the biographer is 
often to pass slightly over those performances and 
incidents, wdiich produce vulgar greatness, to lead 

410 RAMBLER. NO. 60. 

the thoughts into domestic privacies, and display the 
minute details of daily life, where exterior append- 
ages are cast aside, and men excel each other only 
by prudence and by virtue. The account of Thuanus 
is, with great propriety, said by its author to have 
been written, that it might lay open to posterity the 
private and familiar character of that man, cujus 
ingenium et candorem ex ipsius scriptis sunt olim 
semper miraturi, ' whose candour and genius will, 
to the end of time, be by his writings preserved in 

There are many invisible circumstances which, 
whether we read as inquirers after natural or moral 
knowledge, whether we intend to enlarge our science, 
or increase our virtue, are more important than pub- 
Uc occurrences. Thus Sallust, the great master of 
nature, has not forgot, in his account of Catilme, to 
remark that ' his walk was now quick, and again slow,* 
as an indication of a mind revolving something with 
violent commotion. Thus the story of Melancthon 
affords a striking lecture on the value of time, by 
inibrming us, that when he made an appointment, 
he expected not only the hour, but the minute to be 
fixed, that the day might not run out in the idleness 
of suspense ; and all the plans and enterprises of 
De Wit are now of less importance to the world, 
than that part of his personal character which repre- 
sented him as ' careful of his health, and negligent 
of his Ufe.' 

But biography has often been allotted to writers 
who seem very little acquainted with the nature of 
their task, or very negligent about the performance. 
They rarely afford any other account than might be 
collected from public papers, but imagine themselves 
writing a hfe when they exhibit a chronological 
series of actions or preferment ; and so little regard 

NO. 60. RAMBLER. 411 

the manners or behaviour of their heroes, that more 
knowledge may be gained of a man's real character, 
by a short conversation with one of his servants, 
than from a formal and stndied narrative, begun with 
his pedigree and ended with his funeral. 

If now and then thej condescend to inform the 
world of particular facts, they are not always so 
happy as to select the most important. I know not 
well what advantage posterity can receive from the 
only circumstance by which Tickell has distinguished 
Addison from the rest of mankind, the u'regularity 
of his pulse : nor can I thmk myself overpaid for 
the time spent in reading the life of Malherb, by 
being enabled to relate, after the learned biographer, 
that Malherb had two predominant opinions ; one, 
that the looseness of a single woman might destroy 
all her boast of ancient descent ; the other, that the 
French beggars made use very improperly and bar- 
barously of the phrase ' noble gentleman,' because 
either word included the sense of both. 

There are, indeed, some natural reasons why these 
narratives are often written by such as were not 
likely to give much instruction or delight,, and why 
most accounts of particular persons are barren and 
useless. If a life be delayed till interest and envy 
are at an end, we may hope for impartiality, but 
must expect little intelligence ; for the incidents 
which give excellence to biography are of a volatile 
and evanescent kind, such as soon escape the mem- 
ory, and are rarely transmitted by tradition. We 
know how few can portray a living acquaintance, 
except by his most prominent and observable par- 
ticularities, and the grosser features of his mind; 
and it may be easily imagined how much of this little 
knowledge may be lost in imparting it, and how soon 

412 RAMBLER. j^O. 60. 

a succession of copies will lose all resemblance of 
the original. 

If the biographer writes from personal knowledge, 
and makes haste to gratify the public curiosity, there 
IS danger lest his interest, his fear, his gratitude, or 
his tenderness, overpower his fidelity, and tempt him 
to conceal, if not to invent. There are many who 
thmk it an act of piety to hide the faults or failings 
of their friends, even when they can no longer suffer 
by their detection : we therefore see whole ranks of 
characters adorned with uniform panegyric, and not 
to be known from one another, but by^extrinsic and 
casual circumstances. " Let me remember," says 
Hale, " when I find myself inclined to pity a crim- 
mal,^ that there is, likewise, a pity due to the coun- 
try." If we owe regard to the memory of the dead, 
there is yet more respect to be paid to knowledge, 
to virtue, and to truth. 


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